How to Paint Ghosts: An Interview with Ivorian artist Aboudia

Africa is a Country (Old Site)

“Artists don’t create reality they make phantasms”, using a kind of “fantastical technique to produce an artificial dream for the waking world”. At least that’s what Plato thought. In the paintings of Aboudia, we cannot be sure if the figures are alive or dead, if the nightmare they inhabit is reality or fabrication. The figures are drawn in the brutal and naive style of a child, but they are not so easily identified: these are not the same photogenic children pictured on adverts for development funds and charities, inviting paternalistic investment, but sketchy, ghostly figures whose mouths are not prettily silent or widely smiling but cancelled out, eyes not vacant but withdrawn, their speech impossible and thoughts illegible, they are unavailable to the viewer, but their unknowability confronts us like a crisis.

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Author: Camara Dia Holloway

I am an art historian specializing in early twentieth century American art with particular focus on the history of photography, race and representation, and transatlantic modernist networks. I earned my PhD at Yale University in the History of Art Department. Besides my leadership role as the Founding Co-Director of the Association for Critical Race Art History (ACRAH), I am recognized for my expertise on African American Art, particularly African American Photography, and as a seasoned consultant for exhibitions, museum collections, and symposia/lectures planning.

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