at the 55th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia

First official participation

Title of Exhibition: "Traces and signs"
Exhibitors: Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Tamsir Dia, Jems Robert Koko Bi, Franck Fanny
Commissioner: Paolo De Grandis
Curator: Yacouba Konaté
Coordinator in Venice: Carlotta Scarpa, PDG Arte Communications
Coordinator in Côte d'Ivoire: Yacouba Konaté
Venue: Spiazzi, Arsenale, Castello 3865, 30122 Venice

The Government of Côte d'Ivoire, through the Ministry of Culture, is taking part in the 55thInternational Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. This is a first individual participation not only for Côte d'Ivoire, but also for Western African nations including Nigeria, which is also involving for the first time.
Art lovers have known Ivory Coast as an outstanding land of masks and statues, where one could find a variety of schools and styles of traditional sculptures: Dan, Guéré, Senufo, Baule, Guro. Some leading figures of Western Modern Art were inspired by theses style figures. On the other hand, Ivorian contemporary visual arts are not well known. Today, Côte d'Ivoire is emerging from more than a decade (1999-2011) of a difficult crisis.
The Ivorian pavilion in Venice aims to raise awareness of the talent and genius of national artists. At the same time, it is aimed at demonstrating the growing space that is now devoted to creativity and cultural values.
Under the general title of Traces and signs, the Pavilion of Côte d'Ivoire will present the works by four artists:
- Frédéric Bruly Bouabré;
- Tamsir Dia, painter;
- Jems Koko Bi, sculptor;
- Franck Fanny photographer.
1.Inventor of his personal alphabet, founder of his own religion and writer, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré is a hunter of signs: signs of nature on human beings, traces of man on nature. From one small drawing to another with a direct and essential style, he reinterprets the world and maps out a disconnected vision of that world. Bouabré was born in 1921 and the big challenge of his life was not to die in anonymity. He took the way of art to reach this goal and he succeeded in becoming one of the most singular figures in the history of African contemporary art.
2. Tamsir Dia is also an explorer of signs. Born in 1952, he is an art teacher. He had noticed that when a man without pretensions to art, repainted his house, he did not scour the walls, but simply spread the new layer over the old one. Tamsir Dia learned from this experience. His paintings are the parable of the progressive and soft tension inside the wall. Like seismic trays that move and push each other, the surfaces of his works suggest traces of life, memories of time. The general ochre tonality of his paintings indicates the lateritic atmosphere of sub-Saharan roads and landscapes.
3.  Born in 1966, Jems Robert Koko Bi is a rising figure in contemporary art in Côte d'Ivoire. Alumnus of the Dusseldorf Academy of Arts after being a student at the National Higher Institute of Arts and Culture Action (INSAAC) in Abidjan, this regular guest of the Dakar Biennial and several other international events excels in cutting and burning wood, which is his favourite material. He is comfortable with figurative forms as well as with abstract and conceptual constructions. The works he presents in Venice deal with the struggle for power (seeInstallation de chaises) on the one hand, and the 'brain drain' (see Convoi royal) on the other.
4. Franck Fanny has a way for him to absorb and distribute the grain of women’s skin and the stridence of some men’s gazes. He subtly captures the rawness and realism of situations. Without misery, but also without idealism or cruelty. His pictures develop a pictorial naturalism that cuts social scenes as slices dripping with the juice of life. By night, venues appear as hallucinating crystal jewels.
A storing memory makes no noise. Facts do not engrave memory as a disk, but they affect our life by signs and traces that refer to happy or painful events with which we have to learn to live together. Over and over again.
Yacouba Konaté

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© Sergio Martucci