Originally from Zépréguhué in the Daloa Department of Western Côte d’Ivoire, this 75-year-old self-taught artist owes his reputation to the ideograms on which the famous writing of the West African Côte d’Ivoire alphabet is based. This alone will ensure that the name of its inventor will be recorded in the list of "discoverers". Besides his manuscripts and publications, Frédéric Bruly Bouabre devotes himself to creating the graphic works that are another dimension of his personality and that were highlighted in the 1989 exhibition "Magicians of the Earth" at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris.
Originally from Zépréguhué in the Daloa Department of Western Côte d’Ivoire, this 75-year-old self-taught artist owes his reputation to the ideograms on which the famous writing of the West African Côte d’Ivoire alphabet is based. This alone will ensure that the name of its inventor will be recorded in the list of "discoverers". Besides his manuscripts and publications, Frédéric Bruly Bouabre devotes himself to creating the graphic works that are another dimension of his personality and that were highlighted in the 1989 exhibition "Magicians of the Earth" at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

The theme of scarification appears throughout these first three works rendered in black ballpoint pen, black pencil and coloured pencils on cardboard. These works comprise an indivisible whole. They are both writing and drawing because around each sketch there are always captions and texts which, according to the artist, "clarify my thinking and pull my ideas together better". The lines on the forehead symbolize rain and the lines under the eyes, tears.
The theme of scarification appears throughout these first three works rendered in black ballpoint pen, black pencil and coloured pencils on cardboard. These works comprise an indivisible whole. They are both writing and drawing because around each sketch there are always captions and texts which, according to the artist, "clarify my thinking and pull my ideas together better". The lines on the forehead symbolize rain and the lines under the eyes, tears.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Drawing

Mother Carrying a Baby on Her Back

Frédéric Bruly Bouabre
Collection of the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d'Ivoire

9,5 x 15,2 cm
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


For Frédéric Bruly Bouabre the artist, designing is a delight and his raison d’etre. It is a medium of communication and knowledge. Embracing a diversity of themes related to daily life (the news, advertisements, politics and philosophy), the works of Frédéric Bruly Bouabre also provide a glimpse into the Krou tradition (stories, legends and proverbs) and reflect the Aboriginal heritage that he brings to life. The artist is not isolated but seizes every opportunity to interpret his universe in his own style. Everything he finds is a source of inspiration. The things he picks up from the ground, in garbage cans and elsewhere are all food for his imagination.
For Frédéric Bruly Bouabre the artist, designing is a delight and his raison d’etre. It is a medium of communication and knowledge. Embracing a diversity of themes related to daily life (the news, advertisements, politics and philosophy), the works of Frédéric Bruly Bouabre also provide a glimpse into the Krou tradition (stories, legends and proverbs) and reflect the Aboriginal heritage that he brings to life. The artist is not isolated but seizes every opportunity to interpret his universe in his own style. Everything he finds is a source of inspiration. The things he picks up from the ground, in garbage cans and elsewhere are all food for his imagination.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Image

Figure with Cross-shaped Torso

Frédéric Bruly Bouabre
Collection of the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d'Ivoire

9,5 x 15 cm
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The earth, the sky and the stars as well as relationships with vegetable, animal and human nature can be observed throughout Frédéric Bruly Bouabre’s work. His vision of the world and his understanding of materials and elements or, in other words, those traces of intangible things to which he gives meaning, life and energy, can also be perceived.

This work is the synthesis, or rather the combination, of a series of scarifications. Scarification is practised throughout Africa. The execution and arrangement of the scarification comprise a series of graphic details that result in a veritable architecture. Aesthetically, scarification also represents the mark or identity of particular cultural groups. The commentary and interpretation provided by these works demonstrate that the artist’s concerns are not purely academic. He values freedom so much that he expresses himself directly and in his own fashion.
The earth, the sky and the stars as well as relationships with vegetable, animal and human nature can be observed throughout Frédéric Bruly Bouabre’s work. His vision of the world and his understanding of materials and elements or, in other words, those traces of intangible things to which he gives meaning, life and energy, can also be perceived.

This work is the synthesis, or rather the combination, of a series of scarifications. Scarification is practised throughout Africa. The execution and arrangement of the scarification comprise a series of graphic details that result in a veritable architecture. Aesthetically, scarification also represents the mark or identity of particular cultural groups. The commentary and interpretation provided by these works demonstrate that the artist’s concerns are not purely academic. He values freedom so much that he expresses himself directly and in his own fashion.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Drawing

Figure with Scarified Body Work on the cover of You Can't Count the Stars, a publication by the artist

Frédéric Bruly Bouabre

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The Spider Becomes Human: the most cunning being in the world who tricked God" is the title of a work that tells how the union of man and woman resulted in procreation. This work is the condensation of a legend in the Krou tradition. The story tells how God produced a daughter whom he hid in a house without doors under the watchful eye of an old woman in order to protect her virginity. The spider, armed with this information, asked a squirrel to make a hole so he could gain access to the house where the girl was locked up.

The squirrel carried out its mission and informed the spider that he had found the girl. The spider thus began to visit the girl and a pregnancy resulted. God saw what had happened and called the community together to determine who was responsible for the pregnancy, intending to punish the girl if she did not point out the person who was responsible, and also to punish the culprit. The girl told the spider about this but he reassured her, telling her not to worry about anything and giving her the solution to the problem. The day of the assembly, the spider, clothed simply in a loincloth, was asked to give the guests something to drink. While serv Read More
The Spider Becomes Human: the most cunning being in the world who tricked God" is the title of a work that tells how the union of man and woman resulted in procreation. This work is the condensation of a legend in the Krou tradition. The story tells how God produced a daughter whom he hid in a house without doors under the watchful eye of an old woman in order to protect her virginity. The spider, armed with this information, asked a squirrel to make a hole so he could gain access to the house where the girl was locked up.

The squirrel carried out its mission and informed the spider that he had found the girl. The spider thus began to visit the girl and a pregnancy resulted. God saw what had happened and called the community together to determine who was responsible for the pregnancy, intending to punish the girl if she did not point out the person who was responsible, and also to punish the culprit. The girl told the spider about this but he reassured her, telling her not to worry about anything and giving her the solution to the problem. The day of the assembly, the spider, clothed simply in a loincloth, was asked to give the guests something to drink. While serving the drinks, the spider let the loincloth fall and was exposed nude before polite society Then in reply to the question she was asked, the girl answered, "The spider is the only boy I recognize here today; I don’t know who the others are." And so judgement was passed without any harm done.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Drawing

The Spider Becomes Human

Frédéric Bruly Bouabre
Collection of the Musée des Civilisations de Côte d'Ivoire

9,5 x 14,3 cm
© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The works of Frédéric Bruly Bouabre are based on a cultural and regional heritage to which the artist remains attached. He often also asserts that the Krou tradition, a cultural community of Central-Western Côte d’Ivoire to which he belongs, is to be found at the heart of his work. By the same token, he relies on other cultural realties that he re-invents.

With the "bagnon" or "flirtatious eyes", Frédéric Bruly Bouabre helps to revive a tradition that is quickly disappearing. The literal translation of the word "bagnon" means handsome man. This is the cult of the handsome man who is chosen on the basis of pre-determined aesthetic values that are emphasized here in the work of the artist. The "bagnon" is characterized by a tall form, svelte shape, black, bronzed or light skin, beautiful eyes, wide forehead, noble nose, beautiful mouth, white teeth, long and perfect neck, small ears, rounded buttocks, well muscled legs and lithe arms. What sets the "bagnon" apart is the harmony of his body.

The "bagnon" enjoys special status and the entire village community is at his disposal. Brought out for vil Read More
The works of Frédéric Bruly Bouabre are based on a cultural and regional heritage to which the artist remains attached. He often also asserts that the Krou tradition, a cultural community of Central-Western Côte d’Ivoire to which he belongs, is to be found at the heart of his work. By the same token, he relies on other cultural realties that he re-invents.

With the "bagnon" or "flirtatious eyes", Frédéric Bruly Bouabre helps to revive a tradition that is quickly disappearing. The literal translation of the word "bagnon" means handsome man. This is the cult of the handsome man who is chosen on the basis of pre-determined aesthetic values that are emphasized here in the work of the artist. The "bagnon" is characterized by a tall form, svelte shape, black, bronzed or light skin, beautiful eyes, wide forehead, noble nose, beautiful mouth, white teeth, long and perfect neck, small ears, rounded buttocks, well muscled legs and lithe arms. What sets the "bagnon" apart is the harmony of his body.

The "bagnon" enjoys special status and the entire village community is at his disposal. Brought out for village festivals, the "bagnon" is carried into the public square and only appears at the high point of the festivities. An excellent dancer, he is given an ovation by the men and women who throw scarves and who sometimes wipe his face. The practice of the "bagnon", once in decline, has been revitalized by the work of this artist.

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Drawing

The Handsome Man or "Bagnon"

Frédéric Bruly Bouabre
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© 1997, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • describe the work of Ivory Coast artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabre, with reference to technique, themes, and patterns;
  • describe the traditional influences on the work of Ivory Coast artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabre;
  • appreciate how colour, pattern, and motif relate to the theme and emotion communicated in a work of art.

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