Africa on my Mind: Aboudia, The Dinka, and the Gogo: 251 W 19th St

Installation Views

Ethan Cohen Gallery is pleased to present Africa on my Mind: Aboudia, The Dinka and The Gogo, an exhibition showcasing Aboudia’s new Nouchi Graffiti Grêle paintings in tandem with original tribal sculptures from Tanzania’s Gogo people, and South Sudan's Dinka people dating to the early 20th century. This educative intergrouping illuminates the rich context of Aboudia's work, setting it among one possible source of its pan-African inspirations, juxtaposing the traditional and contemporary, illustrating a new wave of artistic emergence onto the world's consciousness from that continent. In Aboudia's hometown of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, many speak 'Nouchi', the local slang, and Grêle denotes the tall, lanky types he portrays. Arguably the leading artist of this new wave, Aboudia's latest paintings of stylized figures synthesizes his street-graffiti roots with the African tribal heritage of spirits and sculptures.

In the last hundred years, Africa has effected a measurable global impact at three distinctive art-historical moments: at first through its deep influence on the inception of Western modernism via Picasso, Modigliani, Giacometti et al. Then in the post-imperial years from the 1950s onwards when the cultures of former colonial lands gained recognition in their own right. And in the present, as the art market became internationalized and embraced individual artists whose work embodies the confluence of native and global consciousness. Aboudia's work occupies front and center in the African contribution to the contemporary art scene.


The works on show, representations of the physical body, harmonized and disparate owing to their common subject, personify views of African identity both through their self-perception and the techniques at play. Aboudia's figures confront us in complex and layered paintings composed with a kinetic, neo-expressionist brush. They reflect the vibrant state between survival and vitalism invoking years of living amid street culture, while the Dinka and Gogo sculptures portray the human form with a minimal line, rooted in tradition, memory and spiritism. This exhibition aims to pair the art historical with the contemporary, celebrating the cultural heritage of Africa, while also drawing connections through the line of time.