Article - the secrets of the universal alphabet created by the artist from Ivory Coast, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
“Find on the scene of human life a specifically African writing, that is my desire”. Anchored on the African continent, Frédéric Brulé Bouabré’s work takes back to the origin of the sign, the alphabet and the language, while sharing the poetic and material transformations of the world. He chose to pass on to future generation what a tradition has in terms of memories, knowledge and experiences.
Since a vision he had on March 11, 1948, the wise man, born in 1923, has understood that his role of mediator consists in copying out and fixing all the “world knowledge”, as he describes his work, in all its forms, drawing from all the knowledge at his disposal to communicate. Ambitious and as multiform as humanity, his work, deeply universal, emanates from a thinker, a poet, as well as from a storyteller or a draftsman.
While he became a legendary character, Cheik Nadro, “the one who does not forget”, the Ivory Coast artist invented a universal language with an alphabet that brought him the reputation of “new Champollion”. Made up of 440 monosyllabic pictograms, it constitutes the graphic representation of its vernacular language, the one of the Betes, also able to reproduce all the speech sounds of every spoken language : “The alphabet is the indisputable pillar of the human language. It is the crucible where the memory of the man lives. It is a remedy against oblivion, dreadful factor of ignorance.” Translating sounds was not enough : it was also necessary to capture what he saw. This commitment results in the thousands of drawings made year after year, all signed with a library stamp.
From a specific culture, from the siol and memory of his land and his people, Frédéric Bruly Bouabré asserts through his art an infinite curiosity, and a will to outline a real cosmogony, cataloging, listing, cartographying the world movements, from banal details like a mark on the table to the most detailed encyclopedic knowledge.
This symbolic artist who exhibits everywhere in the world, challenges the stereotype of Africa “continent of ignorance”. What this “word blacksmith”, as Philippe Bordas describes him, teaches us, has no limits. Filled with the desire for universality and for reuniting humanity. And of course, open to those who would like to enjoy it.
To know more about Frédéric Bruly Boubré, click here
About his work ‘World Knowledge’
How Philippe Bordas talks about him, here
Credits photo : Tom Maglieri