Aboudia Abdoulaye Diarrassouba

Aboudia’s panoramic paintings are crammed with ghost-like figures and seem like horror landscapes. The dense painterly language, backed with crude scribbles and glued-on photographs, charges the works with the unease of a near-disaster. In fact, the disaster has already happened. In late 2010, during the presidential elections, Aboudia was a young painter, after his studies of art and mural painting, living and working in his hometown. The election, won by Alassane Ouattara, was soon disputed by incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo, claiming fraud. The resulting clashes between opponent supporters led to riots that escalated in March 2011 to a civil war. Throughout that time, Aboudia remained in Abidjan, and his paintings were gradually permeated with figures of child-soldiers, bodies, skulls and weapons. Since then, he continues to lay morbid war scenes on large horizontal canvases, executed in quick lines, covered with layers of images and color.

His paintings’ energy is reminiscent of the language of street paintings, graffiti or comics, as well as the paintings of Jean Michel Basquiat, the first black American who achieved fame and promoted contemporary painting with African characteristics. Basquiat’s only visit to Africa, for an exhibition in Abidjan, took place in 1986, after his painterly language had already consolidated as a meld of images and styles plucked from a collective African subconscious, asserting the presence of African and Afro-American heroes and mythologies. Aboudia’s painting is a further reincarnation of this painterly language, which is constructed of layers of influences, from direct and indirect sources, from a collection of reciprocal gazes back and forth, from the West to Africa and back. Basquiat’s Africanism, transmitted to him via cultural DNA, is now mixed into the work of contemporary African artists such as Aboudia, while manifesting a reverse of early 20th-century one-way artistic colonialism.


1983 Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Lives and Works

Abidjan, Ivory Coast