Blouin ArtInfo Top 10 African Artists to Watch: Aboudia and Gonçalo Mabunda
February 21, 2019
Born in Abidjan (the capital of Ivory Coast) in 1983, ABOUDIA produces lively and childlike paintings that seem loosely inspired by the works of Jean Dubuffet and Jean-Michel Basquiat. ABOUDIA is one of the few African Contemporary artists to have gallery representation in both Britain (the Jack Bell Gallery in London) and the US (the Ethan Cohen Gallery in New York). His giant mural-like paintings are borrowed from the graffiti that children spray all over the walls of Abidjan. It’s street art transposed on canvas, in other words. “ABOUDIA is coming from a gritty street environment in the Ivory Coast,” explains Cohen in a video on the gallery website. “It’s not pretty. It’s tough, it’s bold, you’ve got to really fend for yourself and watch out, watch your back.”
Goncalo Mabunda’s childhood was a particularly violent one. He was born in Mozambique in 1975, two years before a brutal civil war that broke out in the newly independent country and left a staggering one million people dead. He discovered weapons as a little boy, through his soldier uncle, and visually speaking, they stayed with him. When the Mozambican civil war finally ended in 1992, the country was littered with some seven million of them. Decommissioned weaponry became the primary materials in Mabunda’s art. He makes spectacular sculptures — masks, thrones, ceremonial chairs — out of mortar shells, rifle magazines and shell casings. The sculptures have made him an art-world superstar, and his works are now all over art fairs and biennales around the world, as well as in major museum collections.