Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

Frederic Bruly Bouabré
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Born in 1923 in Zéprégühé, Ivory Coast / died in 2014 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Inventor of his personal alphabet, founder of his own religion and writer, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré is a hunter of signs: signs of nature on human beings, traces of man on nature. From one small drawing to another with a direct and essential style, he reinterprets the world and maps out a disconnected vision of that world. Bouabré was born in 1923 and the big challenge of his life was not to die in anonymity. He took the way of art to reach this goal and he succeeded in becoming 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 then on 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. Searching for a way to preserve and transmit the knowledge of the Bété people, as well as the knowledge of the entire world, he invented an alphabet of 448 monosyllabic pictograms to represent phonetic syllables. This endeavor earned Bouabré the legendary reputation of being another Champollion, in reference to the great scholar and linguist Jean-Paul Champollion (1790-1832), who discovered the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs. Bouabré’s alphabet, which can transcribe all human sounds, reflects the essence of his thought: to achieve universality and to unite mankind.

In the 1970s, he started to transfer his thoughts to hundreds of small drawings in postcard format, using a ballpoint pen and colour crayons. These drawings, gathered under the title of Connaissance du Monde (World Knowledge), form an encyclopedia of universal knowledge and experience. Other projects, such as Readings from Signs Observed in Oranges (1988), serve as visionary records of divination. For Bouabré, his drawings are representation of everything that is revealed or concealed—signs, divine thoughts, dreams, myths, the sciences, traditions—and he views his role as an artist as a redemptive calling. He has stated: “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.”


The Solo Project Art Fair – Basel / Magnin-A, St Jakobshalle / Basel, Schweiz
Il Palazzo Enciclopedico / 55th Venice Biennale 55th in den Giardini – Arsenal, kuratiert von Massimiliano Gioni / Venedig, Italien
Art Paris Art Fair 2013 / Magnin-A, Grand Palais / Paris, Frankreich

Bouabré is currently working with his grandson Aboudia at the Gallery Cécile Fakhoury, Abidjan / Elfenbeinküste.
Art Brussels, 31th Contemporary Art Fair / Brüssel, Belgien
The Imminence of Poetics / Sao Paulo Biennale, 30th edition / Sao Paulo, Brasilien
Drawing Now Paris / Magnin-A / Carrousel du Louvre / Paris, Frankreich

Riad Al Maaden/ Marrakesch, Morokko
Le Monde vous appartient / Palazzo Grassi / François Pinault Foundation/ Venedig, Italien
ArtParis, Just art! / Grand-Palais / Paris, Frankreich

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré at Tate Modern/ Tate Modern/ London, UK
African Stories/ Ancienne Banque du Maroc/ Marrakesch, Morokko
Bon Séjour, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré/ Gallery Du Jour Agnès b./ Paris, Frankreich
ARTPARIS+GUESTS. André Magnin & Leridon Collection/ Grand-Palais/ Paris, Frankreich

Africa Arte Contemporanea/ JZ Art Gallery/ Meiland, Italien
Africa? Una nuova storia/ Complesso del Vittoriano/ Rome, Italien
Against Exclusion/ 3e Biennale d’Art Contemporain/ The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture/ Moskau/ Russland

Why Africa? / La collezione Pigozzi, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli / Turin, Italien

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré. La Haute Diplomatie / Ikon Gallery / Birmingham, UK

100% Africa / Guggenheim Museum / Bilbao, Spanien
De ida y vuelta. África / La Casa Encendida / Madrid, Spanien
Dak’art 2006/ Biennale for contemporary Africian art/ Dakar, Senegal

African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection / Museum of Fine Arts / Houston, U.S.A
Arts of Africa, The Contemporary collection of Jean Pigozzi / Grimaldi Forum / Monaco.

Africa Remix-Museum Kunst Palast / Düsseldorf, Germany
Hayward Gallery / London, UK
Centre Georges Pompidou / Paris, Frankreich
Mori Art Museum /Tokyo, Japan
Johannesburg Art Gallery / Johannesburg, Südafrika

Transferts / Palais des Beaux-Arts / Brüssel, Belgien
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré / Musée Champollion /Figeac, Frankreich

Documenta 11: Platform 5 Exhibition / Kassel, Deutschland
Inauguration du Plateau / Le Plateau / Paris, Frankreich

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré – Acharya Vyakul / Galerie du jour agnès b. / Paris, Frankreich
Egofugal / Istanbul Biennale (7) / Istanbul, Türkei

Voici, 100 ans d’art contemporain / Palais des Beaux-Arts / Brüssel, Belgien
Dessins Choisis– Alliance éthio-française / Addis-Ababa, Äthiopien/
Forum Culturel de Blanc-Mesnil / Blanc-Mesnil, Frankreich

Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s- Queens Museum of Art / New York, U.S.A/
Walker Art Center / Minneapolis, U.S.A/
Miami Art Museum / Miami, U.S.A
Art spirite, médiumnique et visionnaire / Halle Saint-Pierre / Paris, Frankreich
Art-Worlds in Dialogue / Ludwig Museum / Köln, Deustchland
Zeitwenden ausblick, Kunstmuseum / Bonn, Deutschland

11th Biennale of Sydney: Everyday / Sydney, Australien
Dak’art 1998 / Biennale for contemporary African Art (3) / Dakar, Senegal

Johannesburg Biennale (2), Trade Routes: History and Geography/ Johannesburg, Südafrika
Géographiques: territoires vécus, territoires voulus, territoires figures / FRAC Corse / Corte, Frankreich
Crossings, France/Hawaii ’97 / University of Hawaii / at Manoa Art gallery / Honolulu, Hawaii

Neue Kunst aus Afrika / Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Berlin, Deutschland
10th Biennale of Sydney: Jurassic Technologies Revenant / Sydney, Australien
São Paulo Biennial (23): Universalis / São Paulo, Brasilien
By Night / Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain / Paris, Frankreich

Féminin/Masculin, Le sexe de l’art / MNAM-Centre Georges Pompidou / Paris, Frankreich

Galerie des 5 continents: Frédéric Bruly Bouabré / Musée national des arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie / Paris, Frankreich
Big City: Artists from Africa / Serpentine Gallery / London, UK
TransCulture / Venice Biennale / Palazzo Giustinian Lolin (Fondazione Levi) / Venedig, Italien
9 X 1. 1995 / Gallery de Marseille / Marseille, Frankreich
Baz’art du jour / Gallery Du Jour Agnès b. / Paris, Frankreich

Worlds Envisioned: Alighiero e Boetti and Fréderic Bruly Bouabré / Dia Center for the Arts / New York City, U.S.A

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré / Ginza Art Space, Shiseido Co Ltd. / Tokyo, Japan
Rencontres Africaines / Institut du Monde Arabe / Paris, Frankreich
Identita E Rappresentazioni Cartografiche / Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini / Rom, Italien

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré- Portikus / Frankfurt am Main / Deustchland
Kunsthalle / Bern, Schweiz
Haus der Kulturen der Welt / Berlin, Deutschland
Grapholies / Biennale des arts plastiques d’Abidjan / Elfenbeinküste
Trésors de voyage / Venice Biennale / Italien
Art Against AIDS / Venice Biennale, Peggy Guggenheim Collection / Italien
Azur / Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain / Jouy-en-Josas, Frankreich
La Grande Vérité, les Astres Africains / Musée des Beaux Arts / Nantes, Frankreich
Chambre 763, Hotel Carlton Palace / Hôtel Carlton Palace / Paris, Frankreich

Out of Africa: The Jean Pigozzi Contemporary African Art Collection at the Saatchi Collection / Saatchi Collection / London, UK
Résistances / Watari-Um / The Watari Museum for Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
A visage découvert / Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain / Jouy-en-Josas, Frankreich
Oh! Cet écho! / Centre Culturel Suisse / Paris, Frankreich
World Soup. Küchenausstellung / Saint-Gall, Schweiz
FIAC Découvertes / Galerie Alain Gutharc / Grand Palais / Paris, Frankreich

Africa Hoy Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno – Las Palmas, Spanien
Groninger Museum / Groningen, Niederlande
Centro Cultural de Arte Contemporáneo / Mexico City, Mexico

Far African Art / WAA / Courtrai, Belgien
Magiciens de la terre / Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou et Grande Halle de la Villette / Paris, Frankreich