Aboudia - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Wednesday, June 22, 2022 | Phillips

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    One of the biggest names in the African art scene today, Aboudia is best known for his unsettling chronicles of chaos and violence in his hometown of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Take Me II, executed in 2011, is an early embodiment of the artist’s signature graffiti style. Through layers of bold, heavy outlines and an ominously bright palette, intriguing details fade in and out of focus, fervently demanding close attention. Initially appearing guileless and spirited, Aboudia’s paintings reveal themselves to be a brutally honest commentary on a war-stricken childhood and stolen innocence.


    The artist with his work


    The Children of Abidjan


    “The place of children in my work is very important, in that it is these children I love the most, who inspire me, and who are at the foundation of what I create.” 
    — Aboudia

    Aboudia’s repertoire first attracted international attention in 2011, during the devastating civil war that ravaged Abidjan following a post-electoral conflict. Instead of fleeing the city, Aboudia stayed in his studio, painting amidst the gunfire. It was during this time that the present work was painted, born out of the unspeakable horrors the artist witnessed first-hand.  For Aboudia, children are the pillars of society and subsequently the biggest victims of war — they serve as the driving inspiration of his oeuvre, which draws from local Nouchi culture and graffiti created by the youth on the capital’s streets i. The focus of his works shifts from grappling with the horrors of armed violence to struggling with the day-to-day hardships and social inequality, however, the enduring theme of children remains a constant throughout.


    Detail of the present work


    Aboudia’s subjects are childlike figures, purposely executed with a crudeness reminiscent of crayon drawings created by young children. The use of vivid colour evokes a youthful exuberance, yet the work simmers with unmistakable undercurrents of danger - its vibrance is almost lurid, imbuing the seemingly playful piece with ironic darkness, and one closer look at the figures will bring to attention their hollow eyes and petrified expressions. The artist skilfully juxtaposes imagery of childhood and war, reconciling the convoluted dichotomy of innocence and naivety with trauma, aggression and violence unbefitting of juvenility. Amidst the devastation, however, emerges a beacon of hope, as Aboudia portrays today’s children as a catalyst for change. He incorporates clippings of newspapers and magazines into his pieces, mirroring the artistic practices of the ‘street kids’, a nod to the socio-political awareness of the modern-day youth. By depicting the vulnerable in positions of unspeakable oppression, the present work fully demonstrates Aboudia’s ability to weave a sinister yet uninhibited narrative, its rich pathos leaving viewers empathetic and outraged.

    A Homage to African Culture


    “My inspiration comes from the streets and from the fact that children are writing their stories on the walls.”
    — Aboudia

    Aboudia’s imagery recalls an explosive synthesis of traditional African art, North American graffiti aesthetics, and abstract expressionism. For most viewers, the artist’s work instantly brings to mind the iconic mixed-media masterpieces of Jean-Michel Basquiat.



    Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1982
    Sold by Phillips New York on 18 May 2022 for US$85,000,000 (Premium)
    © The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar


    While Aboudia acknowledges the similarities and expresses admiration for the late contemporary art icon, he cites his only source of inspiration to be the graffiti artists of his hometown— the ‘street children’ of Abidjan. Not having been aware of Basquiat’s work when he began his career, Aboudia developed his signature based on Nouchi street culture -- a representation of boyhood and the youth of Côte d'Ivoire. Moved by children expressing their hopes and dreams through graffiti, Aboudia paid tribute to their persistence and resolve by transposing their ideas onto his canvas, combining the children’s horrifying reality with their innocent optimism.



    Streets of Abidjan, Aboudia’s hometown


    Aboudia’s characters have their roots in African culture, with features comparable to Voodoo iconography as well as masks from the Dan and Igbo cultures in West Africa. Despite the artist’s works being a revolt against the corruption and violence that plagues the continent to this day, he highlights the beauty of African culture by representing traditional imagery in his art, reminding viewers of Africa’s rich heritage that is often undermined and overshadowed by negative portrayal in Western media.

    Collector’s Digest


    Born in 1983, Abdoulaye Diarrassouba, known professionally as Aboudia, is an American-Ivorian contemporary artist. He was born in Côte d'Ivoire and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York, working between Abidjan and New York City. In 2003, he graduated from the School of Applied Arts in Bingerville and in 2005, he graduated from the Institut des Arts in Abidjan.


    Aboudia has enjoyed increasing success at auctions in recent years, having set all of his top 10 auction results in 2021. Beginning in 2007, Aboudia’s work has been widely exhibited at prestigious institutions and galleries. Recent exhibitions include Aboudia: Nouchi Graffiti at Ethan Cohen Gallery, New York (2021-2022) and Aboudia: Enjaillement à Babi at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, Paris (2022). His repertoire has been internationally showcased in numerous cities as part of both solo and group exhibitions, including London, New York, Paris, Basel, Miami, Singapore, and Hong Kong, amongst others.


    Orlando Reade, ‘How to Paint Ghosts’, Africa Is a Country, 4 October 2013, online

    • Provenance

      Jack Bell Gallery, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Take Me II

left panel: signed and dated '07 08 2011 aboudiA' lower right; titled '"take me"' upper centre; further titled and dated '4.8.2011 "TAKE ME II"' on the reverse
right panel: titled and dated '7.8.2011 "TAKE ME II"' on the reverse

acrylic and mixed media on canvas, diptych
each 117.5 x 137 cm. (46 1/4 x 53 7/8 in.)
overall 117.5 x 274 cm. (46 1/4 x 107 7/8 in.)

Executed in August 2011.

Full Cataloguing

HK$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for HK$2,520,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 22 June 2022