Armand Boua: Yopougon, Adjamé, Liberté
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury is delighted to present Yopougon, Adjamé, Liberté, Armand Boua’s second personal exhibition.
Born in 1978 in Côte d’Ivoire, the Ivorian artist studied at École des Beaux-Arts in Abidjan and at Centre Technique des Arts appliqués in Bingerville, before choosing painting as the medium to develop his artistic practice.
In the exhibition Yopougon, Adjamé, Liberté, Armand Boua invokes the neighbourhoods of Abidjan that inspire his body of work which consists of scenes of everyday life, both fleeting and persistent, singular and emblematic of a district, a city, a country and more broadly of a shared history.
Successive to Brobrosseurs, his first solo show presented in Dakar in 2018, the new series on cardboards and canvases, appears as the fragmented depiction of the story of a youth struggling with a confused and restless, yet fascinating modernity.
Beyond the lively street scenes and the pleasant first appearance, the artistic gesture of Armand Boua guides the scratching, brushing, rubbing and grazing of the matter; a testimony to his deep commitment. Through representing moments of his daily routine that simultaneously pertain to a collective history, the artist becomes both a witness and a critic of the story.
In his works, distance and familiarity commingle. Being both a stakeholder and an outside observer of this community, Armand Boua’s technique mirrors his ambivalent stance. He uses rough materials – used carboards, tar – as a metaphor for his artistic and social reflection. The scenes arising from juxtaposing layers of matter and hollow spaces strike by the immediacy of the recognition they impose; they foster in us a sense of closeness inherent to the ordinary.
The portraits, may they be individual or collective, seem familiar to us. They reveal themselves as an intimate memory and we have a sensitive appreciation of them as if they had travelled through time to settle in our imagination after the fashion of mental sketches.
Captured unposed, those faces and postures with a bowl, a colour, a wheelbarrow, or an attitude operating as attributes, appear as emblems recognizable at first glance. The group overrides the individual. Those singular personalities only make sense to the viewer as immutable allegories of an incarnated culture. Armand Boua represents them this way while challenging the supposed steadiness of the image. By deconstructing those street scenes, the artist brings to the fore the singular behind the symbols.
Emanating from the colour stains, gaps, bumps and veins of the cardboard, the figures nevertheless always seem to be on the verge of disappearing. Enlivened by gestures that we perceive as imperious, strained, repeated and even cathartic, this deterioration invites us to cast a closer glance while suggesting that these scenes are more than just landscapes.
In the way of long exposure photography, Armand Boua manages to single-handedly rekindle the lightning of the instant of his lengthy and tedious process. He fuels his works with vibrant energy, submerging but dizzying for it might be in vain.
For this exhibition, the vision of Armand Boua gained momentum. In spite of remaining rooted in the districts of Abidjan where he grew up, those everyday life scenes point towards a utopian elsewhere. The artist has developed a creative technique deeply linked to the message he conveys. He explores the more classical medium of the canvas while constantly deconstructing and questioning it.
Yopougon, Adjamé, Liberté: a strong message of belonging, both an intimate tune and a chant that precedes the combat. Here, Armand Boua only keeps what is essential to the figures he represents, elements that will dwell on our retina, like a mental image. He drives the ordinary out in order to bestow meaning and a language upon it, allowing it to finally speak for itself and transcend stereotypes.
Armand Boua: Yopougon, Adjamé, Liberté runs until August 31, 2019, at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury.
January 15, 2021
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