Bété mythology

 
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The sublime Alphabet

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré (1923-2014) was an Ivorian artist and poet. He was the inventor of a specifically African writing to save the culture of the Beté people from oblivion. He created a complete alphabet consisting of 440 monosyllabic pictograms which he illustrated on small cartolin cards. By using this writing he transcribed the tales and mythology of his people.

“Une explosion de croissance s’est produite” - 19 x 15 cm - 02.04.2008 - © Saguaro Gallery

“Une explosion de croissance s’est produite” - 19 x 15 cm - 02.04.2008 - © Saguaro Gallery

His poetic research was published in 1958 in Notes Africaines, in which Théodore Monod offers a long study on the Bété Alphabet. Brought together under the title "Knowledge of the World", his work consists of numerous series of drawings which have become a true cosmogony over the years.

When I draw, what I really care about is my thoughts, and I revere my ideas. […] When I write, it’s as if I was drawing letters.
— Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
“Les femmes et leur beauté” - 19 x 15 cm - 20.03.2005 - © Saguaro Gallery

“Les femmes et leur beauté” - 19 x 15 cm - 20.03.2005 - © Saguaro Gallery

These thousands of drawings made day after day since the 1950s reflect his immense curiosity, his African roots, his encyclopedic ideal. These works are rare and highly sought after. They are exhibited in large collections and museums, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Mamco in Geneva.

© MAMCO Genève - 2006

© MAMCO Genève - 2006

Film extract of “Frédéric Bruly Bouabré l’universaliste” - Philippe Lespinasse & Andress Alvarez - © Lokomotiv films Lausanne - 2010

 

The Saguaro Gallery has had the privilege of gathering a large collection of the artist since 2012. It consists of numerous drawings, photographs and manuscripts. Some of the works have been exhibited in major sales houses, notably at Christie’s London in April 2019 (you will find the catalogue link below) and we are considering the possibility of a monographic exhibition of the artist. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information or to receive images of the available artworks.

Sale 16799 - First Open | Online | 4 - 11 April 2019 - Christie’s ©

Sale 16799 - First Open | Online | 4 - 11 April 2019 - Christie’s ©

Raphaël Colombani