Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
Ivory Coast, 1923 - 2014
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré is one of Africa’s best known and most celebrated 20th-century artists. Bouabré was born in 1923 in the Bété village of Zéprégühé, near Daloa, the major city in west-central Côte d’Ivoire. His work had a single objective: to record and transmit information about the known universe. Devoting his life to a quest for knowledge, he captured and codified subjects from a range of sources, including cultural traditions, folklore, religious and spiritual belief systems, philosophy, and popular culture. “I do not work from my imagination,” he once said. “I observe, and what I see delights me”. His approach to image and language condenses oral culture into a dizzying multiplicity of visual forms and written annotations. During the formative period of his career, he was concerned with transcribing the history and knowledge of his native Bété ethnic group, and he set out to create the first writing system for the Bété language in the 1950s. Bouabré also created writings and drawings focused on scenes from everyday life, exploring broader themes of democracy, women’s rights, and current affairs.