Frédéric Bruly Bouabré was born in 1923 in Zéprégühé, Ivory Coast. He passed away at the age of 91 in 2014 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Bouabré was among the first Ivorians to be educated by the French colonial government. In 1948 he had a vision, which directly influenced much of his later work. He created hundreds of small drawings with a ballpoint pen and colored pencils while working as a clerk in various government offices, and these drawings as a whole comprise a project titled World Knowledge—an encyclopedia of universal knowledge and experience. Bouabré also created a 448-letter, universal Bété syllabary, which he used to transcribe the oral tradition of his people, the Bétés. This visual language is recorded through a set of approximately 1,000 small cards, each bearing monosyllabic pictograms, symbolic imagery, and text, with Bouabré’s commentary on life and history. His work was featured in the 1989 exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Grande Halle at the Parc de la Villette in Paris. His work was recently featured in the Ivory Coast Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013).


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Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
“Untitled (belle tenue vestimentaire – femme Africaine en robe Europèenne),” 2009
Colored pencil and ink on cardstock
9 x 6.25″ [HxW] (22.86 x 15.88 cm)