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Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

Ivorian, 20th-21st century.
Born 1923, Zéprégühé, Côte d'Ivoire; died 2014, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré lived and worked in the Ivory Coast capital of Abidjan. His schooling was cut short by poverty and the need to earn a living, but his life was transformed in the late 1940s by what he described as ‘a magnificent sunlit vision’. From that moment, he adopted the name ‘Cheik Nadro the Revealer’ and dedicated his life to philosophical research into the state of Africa and the meaning of life. His researches have included studies of scarification designs, clouds and stars and the histories of Africa and the world. Bouabré believes that his people, the Bété, need an oral tradition to interpret his thoughts. He also invented a visual language, which he portrayed on cards cut to 3.75 x 5.9 inches (9.5 x 15 cm), designed to carry his messages. Using ballpoint pens and crayons, Bouabré drew symbolic images on each card and surrounded them with a border of text. The 1000-plus cards include images of steam trains, animals, field tools, preachers and political leaders. They may resemble the hand-painted signs announcing barbers’ shops, tailors and grocery stores all across Africa, but their significance lies in their unique divinatory messages and their comments on life and history.

*Biography courtesy the Outsider Art Sourcebook, Raw Vision.

Selected Exhibitions

2013, The Encyclopedic Palace, Venice Biennale, Venice

2012, Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen, Biennale Bénin, Cotonou

2011, The World of Frédéric Bruly Bouabré and His Object Teaching, Kimmel Center Window Gallery, New York

2010, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Tate Modern, London

2010, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne

2010, African Stories, Ancienne Banque du Maroc, Marrakesh

2007, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (United Kingdom)

2007, Why Africa?, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin

2006, 100% Africa, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

2006, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Musée des Civilisations de Côtes d'Ivoire, Abidjan

2005, Arts of Africa: The Contemporary Collection of Jean Pigozzi, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco

2004, Africa Remix, traveling exhibition, Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf; Hayward Gallery, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

2003, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Musée Champollion, Figeac (France)

2002, Documenta 11, Kassel

1995, World Envisioned: Frédéric Bruly Bouabré & Alighiero e Boetti, Dia Center for the Arts, New York

1995, Galerie des Cinq Continents, Musée des arts d'Afrique et d'Océanie, Paris

1993, Trésor de Voyage, Venice Biennale, Venice

1991, Africa Now, Atlantic Center of Modern Art, Las Palmas (Canary Islands)

1989, Magiciens de la Terre, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Selected Collections

Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
National Museum, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Pigozzi Collection, Geneva
Tate, London

Selected Bibliography

Bouabré, Frédéric Bruly, André Magnin, Yaya Savané and Denis Escudier, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Éditions Xavier Barral, Paris, 2013.

Lombardi, Sarah, "Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: Self-Taught Encyclopaedist," Raw Vision, No. 69, Fall 2010.

Dorment, Richard, "Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: A childlike world of goodness and colour," The Telegraph, London, September 4, 2007.

Why Africa?
, exhibition catalogue, Electa & Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Turin, 2007.

Arts of Africa: The Contemporary Collection of Jean Pigozzi
, exhibition catalogue, Skira & Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, 2005.

Magnin, André and Jacques Soulilou, Contemporary Art of Africa, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1996.

Cooke, Lynne and André Magnin, Worlds Envisioned, exhibition catalogue, DIA Center for the Arts, New York, 1995.

Africa Now
, exhibition catalogue, Atlantic Center of Modern Art, Las Palmas, 1991.

Magiciens de la Terre, exhibition catalogue with text by Jean-Hubert Martin, Mark Francis, Aline Luque and André Magnin, Éditions du Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1989.
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