Expression in art has many ways of delivering its message. Sometimes as a framed idea, or through the pure intensity of the brush that simultaneously encodes emotion. It serves the deeply aesthetical, almost sensorial needs of visual vocabulary that humans use. Ethan Cohen Gallery is pleased to display three artists different in form, yet similar in approach: Aboudia, Lan Zhenghui and Armand Boua.
Aboudia is a mid-career African artist who has started as a graffiti writer in Abidjan, than switching to the collages, which helped him to study in depth the imagery of African tribal art as well as the rituals often involving spiritual practices. After Aboudia`s recent shift towards expressionism he has begun using wider brush strokes and sometimes his fingers while still keeping the same characters that are known in his iconography: street kids, voodoo creatures, animals and figures referring to African masks.
Lan Zhenghui is a thoughtful Beijing-based artist who deconstructs the classical approach of traditional ink painting that has been used in China for more than 1500 years. He uses wide, gentle, yet energetic brushstrokes that almost invisibly sum up to a natural, environmental image of a landscape that stands for time rather than for the place in Lan`s works.
Armand Boua is another powerful artist that documents street scenes of Africa while wisely incorporating his criticism of urbanization, wealth distribution, centralization and violence. He depicts the very same abandoned kids from Abidjan that we can see in Aboudia`s paintings. Children on canvases look isolated and lost, while still continuing to follow certain hierarchal orders and sets of values within their decentralized communities. Not only Boua is focused on the local context but his criticism can also be easily transmitted to the list of global issues such as immigration, imperialism and inaccessibility to education.