Armand Boua: Everything's Alright

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Ethan Cohen Gallery

Armand Boua: Everything’s Alright (Ya Foye à Baby)

June 28 – August 27, 2022

Born in 1978, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Armand Boua’s work explores the poignant adversity of the human condition through his primary subject of interest—the children populating the streets of his birthplace and current residence. Abidjan, the country’s urban center and one of Africa’s fastest growing metropoles, is at the forefront of a rapidly industrializing African continent. This economic growth excludes and immiserates the lives of Abidjan’s street kids who survive at the confluence of dehumanizing forces  -  the urban violence and political volatility unleashed by impersonal winds of change. Boua situates them as witness and victim amid the chaos. His work extricates the street kids from their landscape of anonymous suffering all the while creating through them a visual code for the universal predicament trapped in pitiless local, national, and global forces. As a perceiving subject, Armand Boua centers himself within this ecosystem to generate his art, transposing himself with his subjects.

 

His child subjects assume a double resonance. On one end, they are real-life figures, suffering under sex-trafficking markets, adoption rings, and modern iterations of slave labor—all of which are vestiges of colonialism’s economic demands. Within that same register, the children also represent symbolic and figurative placeholders for innocence and hope, as they are the face of a new Ivoirian generation. Armand Boua wields the tensions between these two representational models through his practice which plays with textures, layering, gestures, and color invoking anthropomorphic figures. His compositions rely mainly on the use of found cardboard as a foundation, layering tar and acrylic, then stripping it off to leave behind abstract forms. Boua maintains a doctrine of engaging with found and discarded materials, a post-industrial detritus comparable to his human subjects, enduringly impermanent.

 

Armand Boua studied at the National School of Fine Arts and the Technical Center for Applied Arts, both of which are based in Abidjan. From this, his artistic ethos is entrenched in his home city, yet his work still connects to larger historical and social discourses. In 2015, Saatchi Gallery curated the show Pangea II, a direct continuation from their previous show Pangea I held in 2014, which brought Boua’s work into the international sphere. Recently, Boua has continued to contribute to global artistic discourses as he represents Côte d’Ivoire at the 59th Venice Biennale alongside artists Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Aboudia, Yeanzi, and Laetitia Ky. Armand Boua’s show with Ethan Cohen Gallery showcases 19 works from a new body of work created between 2019 and 2021. This exhibition will mark Boua’s second solo show at the gallery.

Works