Africa

Ivory Coast artist Frederic Bruly Bouabre dies

Works by Frederic Bruly Bouabre
Image caption His visual alphabet language was portrayed on more than 400 small cards

One of Africa's most celebrated visual artists, Ivorian Frederic Bruly Bouabre, has died aged 91.

Bouabre created many of his hundreds of small drawings while working as a clerk in various government offices.

He also created an alphabet of pictograms to transcribe the oral traditions of his people, the Betes.

In the last 25 years his work has been exhibited at several of the world's most important art galleries and museums.

His work was displayed at last year's Venice Biennale, both at the international exhibition, called The Encyclopaedic Palace, and at the Ivory Coast pavilion.

"Bouabre is himself a kind of builder of encyclopaedias because his personal work consists in inventing a specific African alphabet," the Ivorian curator and art critic Yacouba Konate told the BBC at the time.

"He thinks it's easier for an African to learn, to get new knowledge, when he works inside an African writing system, an African language."

Mr Konate said Bouabre also documented the scarification on people's faces in various West African countries.

According to the Venice Biennale organisers, Bouabre worked as a civil servant until 1948, when he had a vision after which he dedicated himself to art.

Jonathan Watkins, from the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and curator of a recent an exhibition of Bouabre's in Seoul, said during the vision he saw different coloured circles in the sky.

"It lead him to the conclusion that he was put on earth as a kind of prophetic character. He called himself 'Cheikh Nadro'.... 'the one who never forgets,'" he told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme.

His visual alphabet language was portrayed on more than 400 small cards using ballpoint pens and crayons, with symbolic imagery surrounded by text.

Image caption A series by Bouabre on diplomacy and the African Union shown at the Ivorian pavillion at the Venice Biennale

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