Renowned Ivorian artist Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, better known as « Aboudia », evokes in his works his links with African street children. The father of « Noutchy », a distinctive style influenced by Abidjan graffiti and traditional West African sculptures, is increasingly sought after by large collectors.

Born more than 200 km from Abidjan in 1983, Aboudia discovered art at school. He left home at age 15 to study at the Technical Center for Applied Arts in Bingerville and then in 2005, graduated from the Abidjan School of Fine Arts. His work came under the spotlight following the post-election conflict of December 2010 in his country. The media often illustrated coverage of the conflict with his works that feature children amidst skulls, weapons, rocket launchers and tanks. The artist created these works in order to describe the situation and to leave a documentary for posterity.

 Aboudia : a Noutchy parti from Yopougon to become the Basquiat of Africa
Aboudia, Untitled,
Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd

An instinctive artist, he paints what he sees and feels directly from the street. He recreates the graffiti of the city on his canvases and paints figures that represent those underprivileged youth of the community who live in the most difficult streets of Abidjan and, by extension, everywhere else.

For him, children are the pillars of the world. In order to draw their dreams, he creates layered canvases mixing collage, acrylic paint and oil sticks that often incorporate materials found on the streets (newspaper clippings, magazines etc…). These works can be dark and brutal at times, while retaining the innocence of the happy childhood they present with color.

A Noutchy in New York City

 Aboudia : a Noutchy parti from Yopougon to become the Basquiat of Africa
Aboudia, Les Yeux Pop,
Ethan Cohen Gallery

« Noutchy in New York City », the online sale dedicated to Aboudia earlier this year, held from February 25 to March 12, followed by a solo exhibition at Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries, March 4-8, 2021 featured 22 works created during the period of confinement. These works were all sold, with two works selling for over $187,500 each, more than 10 times their original estimates.

This was followed a few months later by another online sale with Sotheby’s auction house where bidders from around the world coveted a technicolor canvas, « Untitled » created in 2015 and brought the bidding to a final price of $231,355.

A recognized figure among the biggest names in contemporary African art, Abdoulaye Diarrassouba participated in the two Pangaea exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery in 2014 and 2015, and is represented by numerous galleries between London, New York and Barcelona, as well as in Abidjan. He has also exhibited in major art fairs.

 Aboudia : a Noutchy parti from Yopougon to become the Basquiat of Africa
Aboudia, Untitled,
LIS10 Gallery

He was recognized early on by gallerist Cecile Fakhoury, who was one of the first to recognize his genius as Jack Bell, who hosted his first solo exhibition « La bataille d’Abidjan » at his London-based gallery in 2011. This has been followed by a wave of exhibitions around the world and auctions such as the recent one with « Artcurial » where his work « La vie en violet » sold for $106,964 including fees.

His perceived proximity and frequent comparison to Jean-Michel Basquiat means that beyond being socially and politically motivated in his artistic practice, he sometimes deliberately draws a crown in his paintings.

Once the darling of young collectors, he now gives back to his community and the street children who inspire him through his cultural center and foundation in Bingerville. These structures provide health and educational assistance, but above all encourage people not to lose hope.

Currently on display at the Cécile Fakhoury Gallery until August 28, he is presenting new works on canvas and paper in addition to a monumental fresco of thirteen meters. With the exhibition « Tokyo », the artist Aboudia refers to and pays tribute to Yopougon, his home district.

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