Galerie Cécile Fakhoury presents Môgô Dynasty, the third solo exhibition by the Ivorian artist Aboudia in its space. This portrait of a changing society assembles his most recent works produced in Abidjan alongside a monumental in situ installation.
Aboudia’s work depicts the vitality and the unvarnished energy of a youth that gets by and manages; the smiles are a little nightmarish at times, but these broad smiles exalt their experience. This generation on the fringes of society is growing and taking on a new form. Its strength is becoming clearer as it is restructured. In each work swarms a multitude of lives, a breath of fresh air and noise, silhouettes seek their place in endlessly narrow spaces.
In Môgô Dynasty, Aboudia’s paintings shrink. The figures are stifled in the frame. Their voices are heard in a steamy commotion, their combined force at bursting point. The ground appears to have disappeared, the perspective restricted to colour, right up to the overhang and edges of the canvas. The accents on the amassed characters signify a burning desire for self-assertion in a daily whirlwind. With no indication of realism, Aboudia develops the distinctive features of those with whom he shares time and space. The out of scope has a place in this Ivorian chronicle. These wall paintings are extracts, the catalytic essence of street fragments.
The in situ installation La cour/The courtyard adorns a section of wall comprising a multitude of empty figures made from arranged fabric and worn clothes. The children’s second-hand clothes are displayed as if they were still being worn. The tapestry forms the landscape, a panorama of an open air Fanicos workshop. These low cost cleaners carry the piles towards the streams and dry them in the first rays of the sun, in the early morning city breeze, exposed to passers-by and passengers in screeching transport. In front of this installation in the gallery, you can imagine the fields of clothes that can be seen alongside Abidjan’s main roads. The huge fresco is littered with tinges of wool, in touches, suggesting traces of paint, resonating with the style of Aboudia’s work.
With his Môgôs, La famille du Roi/The Family of the King, La mort du Roi /The Death of the King and Le môgô muselé/The Muzzled Môgô, Aboudia narrates wandering ghostly characters leaving an impression with each appearance. His protagonists are masked night owls. Dressed and made-up they come out in a joyful and disconcerting havoc. The living dead, zombies that are more awake than ever are illuminated in his tableaux. Between the concrete and the sand Aboudia creates a fantasy, a spontaneous festival, a thriller straight out of coastal West Africa.
From one work to the next, the public is projected in the stream and hubbub of the maquis. The canvases are freeze frames, focusing on a group of môgôs who are preparing to have a discussion, in a circle for sharing experiences where each takes on a social status: stature of the dur gars (tough guy) or of the accomplished financial expert, from the neighbourhood mechanic to the civil servant, from apprentice to sedan driver. In Aboudia’s canvases the presence of yesterday’s Ziguéhis can be felt to the emergence and assertion of Nouchi. The friction of words, remixed sounds and dreams of someplace else brandished in signs of identity, resistant to the test of precarious everyday conditions.
Out of context you can enjoy the bold and sharp strokes, the quick and voluntary touches, the deep black stressing the repetitive and continuous symbol of infinity. His lines continually encapsulate the effervescence of a blossoming country, the subject of endless debates and demands. Abidjan is at the height of its ascension, a city of transformations. Now that it is beyond the crisis, it is attractive; a city of possibilities. Aboudia is lying in wait, he observes and buries himself in his metropolis. He closely follows any movement or changes. Canvas after canvas he vividly describes what resists the universal codes, in the pallor of a standardised society.