Aboudia: The Battle For Abidjan

June 22 - July 30, 2011

Jack Bell Gallery is pleased to present a new series of paintings by the Ivorian artist Aboudia Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, in his first solo exhibition at the gallery.

 

The riots that followed the disputed Ivorian presidential election in late 2010 greatly influenced Aboudia's painting. As the violence escalated, daily life in Ivory Coast and particularly the capital Abidjan was thrown into turmoil. In March 2011 the conflict reached a crisis point and the country broke down into civil war. During this period the artist took refuge in a basement studio and began a body of work responding to the horrors of the country's devastating political situation.

 

Aboudia is noted for his large-scale, heavily layered, brutally energetic paintings that combine an innocence and spontaneity with the portrayal of a dark interior world. His urban landscapes are haunted by armed soldiers, ominous skulls and a populace hemmed in by violence and danger. Often claustrophobic and oppressive, his painting achieves a careful balance between pathos and aggression. While the vitality of his style recalls Basquiat, the darker undercurrents and themes describe a battlefield straight out of Goya.

 

Aboudia is also a master of multi-layered imagery as he mixes with great energy characters from his direct neighbourhood and fragments of found comic strips, advertising and the media. Enigmatic details come in and out of focus, often only revealing themselves after several viewings. His expression of revolt and explosive, incendiary life in his everyday urban environment brings to mind artists from the great American tradition, Twombly perhaps in his casual-looking execution, and Dubuffet. Aboudia's unrestrained use of violent figuration is a welcome reminder of the power of paint to suggest the vitality and chaos of life.

 

Aboudia was born in 1983 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he continues to live and work. Now widely collected in West Africa by institutions and collectors alike, this will be his first solo exhibition abroad.