Frédéric Bruly Bouabrè | Ivory Coast

“Now that we are recognized as artists, our duty is to organize into a society, and in such a way to create a framework for discussion and exchange among those who acquire and those who create. From that could arise a felicitous world civilisation.”


Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, also known as Cheik Nadro was born in 1923 in Ivory Coast.

Frédéric is now considered one of the most singular figures in the history of African contemporary art. The origin of all of Frédéric Bruly Bouabré’s work stems from a revelatory experience: on March 11, 1948, “the heavens opened up before my eyes and seven colorful suns described a circle of beauty around their Mother-Sun, I became Cheik Nadro: ‘He who does not forget.’” From that very moment he tackled every field of knowledge and collected his research in manuscripts about arts and traditions, poetry, tales, religion, esthetics, and philosophy, revealing himself to be an astonishing thinker, poet, encyclopedist, creator.

He created hundreds of small drawings that depict many different subjects, mostly drawn from local folklore or describing his visions. The drawings are part of a larger body of work, World Knowledge.
Bouabré also created a 448-letter, universal Bété syllabary, which he used to transcribe the oral tradition of his people, the Bétés. His visual language is portrayed on some 1,000 small cards using ballpoint pens and crayons, with symbolic imagery surrounded by text, each carrying a unique divinatory message and comments on life and history.

Frédéric unfortunatly died in 2014


Selected exhibitions:

I have a dream, AKKA Project Venezia, Venezia, Italy
The Doors of Perception, Curated by Javier Téllez in collaboration with the Outsider Art Fair, Frieze New York, New York, Usa

The Encyclopedic Palace, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

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

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

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Tate Modern, London, UK

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, France

African Stories, Ancienne Banque du Maroc, Marrakech, Morocco

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK

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

100% Africa, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Musée des Civilisations de Côtes d’Ivoire, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

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

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

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Musée Champollion, Figeac, France

Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany

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

Galerie des Cinq Continents, Musée des arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, Paris, France

Trésor de Voyage, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

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

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

Selected Collections:
Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, France
National Museum, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Pigozzi Collection, Geneva, Switzerland
Tate, London, UK



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