Aboudia raises questions: Masquarade or the parade of masks?

Aboudia, Masquerade #13, 2019. Mixed Media on Canvas. 150 x 300 cm. © Copyright Aboudia. Courtesy Cécile Fakhoury
Aboudia, Masquerade #13, 2019. Mixed Media on Canvas. 150 x 300 cm. © Copyright Aboudia. Courtesy Cécile Fakhoury

Masquerade as a manifesto. Gules mounted on hollow bodies planted there, looking straight into your soul. A parade of masks in which we fell by chance and not necessarily of our own free will; a rebel demonstration that we internally disapprove of but which fascinates. «It’s gnagami,» a mess. We don’t understand it, it is everywhere, it is deafening. Always the same facies from one work to another. Aboudia’s incessant repetition makes his forms identifiable. The Môgôs* with their Grebo mask* face, with their hypnotized eyes and tight smiles. They form a redundant and incarnate casting that plays in the plastic-esthetic thriller that the artist has been writing for several years. Each one has its own attribute – studio actor’s toolbox – two lungs, a rib cage in the form of a telephone keyboard, a chest.

Repeating the same signs over and over again is a cathartic gesture for the artist. It must be said that in the streets, in Aboudia’s streets, there are some obsessions. Babi the beautiful in a corner of the head in a corner of the canvas: 21st century Africa emerges. We watch the painter’s zombie creatures emerge from the shallows of these barely urbanized but already saturated cities, their teeth scratching the floor to conquer everything and nothing. The same faces but never quite the same story.

Aboudia, Masquerade #11 , 2019. Mixed media on canvas. 210 x 230 cm © Copyright Aboudia. Courtesy Cécile Fakhoury Gallery
Aboudia, Masquerade #11 , 2019. Mixed media on canvas. 210 x 230 cm © Copyright Aboudia. Courtesy Cécile Fakhoury Gallery

From one saturated background to another, Aboudia uses coloured pastel to create new chapters of the story. He always composes to rewrite the vital force of a generation that created his city in the city, and that spends its time reinventing it. A city where linear space is running out and which is built in layers superimposed like a palimpsest of daily lives which are striving to make ends meet.

Aboudia represents his characters in a deliberately too narrow pictorial space and forces us to imagine what is outside the boundaries of the painting. These gaous* take the whole canvas, fully affirming their stature in the frame, to such an extent that the only way for the artist to continue to build the image is to do so by superposing the reliefs. The roughness of the cardboard, the transparency of newsprint, the fat from the pastel, the brightness of the paint. Material are mixed and subjects are juxtaposed to densify the reading of the work.

Aboudia, Masquerade #7, 2019. Mixed media on canvas. 150 x 150 cm.  © Copyright Aboudia. Courtesy Cécile Fakhoury Gallery
Aboudia, Masquerade #7, 2019. Mixed media on canvas. 150 x 150 cm. © Copyright Aboudia. Courtesy Cécile Fakhoury Gallery

Here in Masquerade, he chooses to draw on the ancestral history that has been following him. The addition of images of African statuettes are cut out, photocopied, embossed and outlined as the contours of children’s colourings. They create new settings. They are magical and incantatory scenes of a masquerade, a ceremony in which mask wearers appear and social stories are played out loud. Aboudia paints this daily duality between urbanity and ancestrality, progress and tradition.

Aboudia, Masquerade #9 , 2019. Technique mixte sur toile. 190 x 240 cm.  © Copyright Aboudia. Courtesy Cécile Fakhoury Gallery
Aboudia, Masquerade #9 , 2019. Technique mixte sur toile. 190 x 240 cm. © Copyright Aboudia. Courtesy Cécile Fakhoury Gallery

This artistic gesture may as well contain a touch of nihilism. Finally, nothing exists in the absolute sense, everything is related to what is around; including for the spectator who looks at the paintings and cannot claim to interpret them «in their context» without integrating the noise, the smells, and the sensations of the global African city that they generate. In the white cube of the gallery, a deafening chaos, bubbling with life, colours and shapes, enters the gallery. In a hurry, they landed the Môgos and imposed themselves on us as the messengers of a global and uncompromising urban character.

Masquarade
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury – Dakar, Sénégal
20 September -22 October 2019
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