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  Frederic Bruly Bouabre : la Haute Diplomatie

Bruly Bouabré, Frédéric
Other(s) author(s) : Ikon Gallery, [argitaratzaile]Language : EnglishBirmingham : Ikon Gallery, 2007orriak zenbatu gabe : koloretako irudiak ; 21 cm(Ikus) Testua: bitartekorik gabeISBN : 978-1-904864-34-9.Frédéric Bruly Bouabré. La Haute DiplomatieFrédéric Bruly Bouabré (Wikipedia en) | Exhibition
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"Frédéric Bruly Bouabré. La Haute Diplomatie" erakusketaren katalogoa. Catálogo de la exposición.

Testuak: Jonathan Watkins, Ettore Sottsass, André Magnin, Yaya Savané.

This is the first exhibition of work by Fréderic Bruly Bouabré in the UK. Born in Zéprégühé, Ivory Coast (1923), now living in Abidjan, this artist is prolific in his production of postcard-sized drawings. They are exquisite, symbolic cartoons, drawn in ballpoint and coloured pencils, conveying a remarkable energy for an apprehension of the way the world works. There is no question of anything but anthropocentricism: "I usually paint (sic.) men and women. After all, the earth is humanity." There are categorised images of tribal scarring, hunting traps, clouds, rocks, gold weights and kola nuts, especially poigmant form a West African point of view. More generally, they exemplify an all-too-human epistemological impulse, a need to know how we know the most familiar phenomena -not just a question of communication, but how our communication determines our understanding.
Since the time he emerged as an artist in the late 1940s Bouabré set about inventing an alphabet that often features in his work. Slightly hieroglyphic, and applicable to any language in the world, it is based on the strange geometry of the little quartz stones that are commonplace on the Ivory Coast, matching shapes with uttered sounds. Not only was bouabré devising a means by which things were written, he was making a post-colonialist gesture, developing an alternative to the pervasive French script imposed on him at school. In the early 1980s, ironically, he learnt English in order to write to our current queen, Elizabeth, a very long letter, in the form of a booklet, that explained the principles of his innovation: "My Dear Lady ... I shall here, try to explain you my "system of alphabet" as possible as I can (sic). He goes on to describe how, against all odds, he prevails through the naming of one particular little stone -clearly symbolising himself- and then proceeds to develop a system of transcribed syllables that engenders an array of surprisingly resolved pictures. This letter is part of the exhibition along with other booklets filled with writings and drawings by the artist.
By accretion, Bouabré's work acquires its strength and gravity. His various series involve hundreds and hundreds of pieces, drawings that are like diary entries, countless observations on everyday life. There is a modesty, of medium and subject matter, foiled by a philosophical ambition that is conveyed by the umbrella titles of works exhibited here: Connaissance du Monde (Knowledge of the World), Alphabet (Alphabet) and Musée du Visage Africain (Museum of African Faces). This publication is dedicated to Haute Diplomatie (High Diplomacy), a series of 193 drawings, just completed. Each drawing depicts a figure (usually male) draped in the colours of a national flag with an arm outstretched, as if in anticipation of shaking hands. The images are presented in alphabetical order -Afghanistan, Afrique du Sud, Albanie, Algerie, etc- thus counteracting a hierarchy whereby superpowers precede so-called developing countries. It chimes in with the artist's fundamental multiculturalism. Despite the national labels, Bouabré suggests citizenship of the world: "Whether you come from American, Africa, Asia or elsewhere, I show through my work that we are all part of this same entity, just as two or three children suckled at the breast of the same mother are part of the same body. Because we are all created by the earth, we are truly related in terms of race and colour." The location of this exhibition, in Birmingham, one of the most multicultural cities in the world, could not be more appropriate.
The exhibition itself benefits enormously from international cooperation. André Magnin and Yaya Savané have been invaluable company on the curatorial journey that brought us here. Philippe Boutté and others at CAAC were unstinting in their practical and moral support. Many thanks to Ettore Scottsass for his poetic observations contained within this volume, and to Jean Pigozzi for his immense generosity making hundreds of beautiful drawings available to us. Above all, we are grateful to the artist.
Jonathan Watkins

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