Art starts again at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Lucca with the anthological exhibition "Frédéric Bruly Bouabrè: Arte Alfabeto Universale" dedicated to the Ivorian artist who died in 2014, one of the most significant international authors of the post-World War II cultural scene.
Frédéric Bruly Bouabrè, as well as an artist, was a tireless researcher of the history of his people and of Africa and a storyteller, poet, archivist, philosopher, teacher and writer. Born on March 11, 1921 in Zépréguhé in the Ivory Coast, in 1948 he received a celestial revelation and began to create "pictogrammes", 449 symbols that make up a new alphabet: Bété.
In 1970, Bouabré began to create thousands of "cartes postales" on which he draws using a ballpoint pen and colored pastels, run through with a text that the artist uses to tell a story, an impression, and to bring about universal knowledge through the revelation of signs.
Self-taught, since the 1950s he has been able to give life to a visual and graphic alphabet, with the aim of keeping the memory and culture of his land alive and, always through images, creating an understandable language at a universal level to foster dialogue between peoples.
The mission was carried out by the artist for over sixty years, faithful to the motto pronounced by the African writer Hampathe Ba at the Unesco assembly in 1962: "In Africa, every time an elderly person dies, it's like burning a library".
Bouabrè has exhibited in prestigious international public and private spaces, starting with the famous exhibition "Magiciens de la terre", set up in 1989 at the George Pompidou Center in Paris, which brought to light contemporary African art for the first time, and followed by “Africa Remix”, passing through to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Tate Modern in London and Portikus in Frankfurt. He has also been the protagonist at important events such as the Venice Biennale, Documenta in Kassel and the San Paolo Biennale.
The exhibition presents over 350 works from private collections and from the artist's family, exploring the different phases of his over fifty-year career and illustrating the various thematic, poetic and biographical aspects thanks to a rich set of documents and historical evidence.
The works on display are small cards on which the artist noted the accurate observations on existence, hidden under the surface, and documents the various thematic phases of the artist, from the one dedicated to the Bété visual alphabet to that of “La joy of birth" and "Humanity", which celebrates kinship, passing through to "The tree of life" and "The Zakolo legend " and the "Stones of Bekora", up to "Africa presents its culture”, “Vision of the sun” and the famous “Knowledge of the world”. Also on display are some unpublished works, including a very rare oil painting on canvas by the Ivorian artist.
The exhibition is enriched by the many autographed documents and historical photos, many of which are unpublished and loaned for the first time by the family. Also on display are numerous poetic texts and essays written by the artist, as well as letters and curiosities, such as the original sketch of the clock designed by Bouabrè for Swatch.
The exhibition also explores the friendship between the African artist and Alighiero Boetti. Boaubrè had a relationship of exchange with Boetti that is furthered in the exhibition with a dedicated section featuring paintings that the two artists have dedicated to each other along with photos and texts.