Hi guys, I visited and stayed in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso during the harmattan for a few days to share poetry and connect with a fraction of a group of poets and artists from different countries in West Africa who stay socially conscious and are passionate about envisioning and carving out a new and fresh voice for the sub region using our art and community involvement, putting aside language and physical borders. In January this year, a few of them(Julio Teko, Efy, Trez and Moria- poets and graffiti artists from Togo) joined me and and other Ghanaian artists for The Write Experience at Alliance Francaise d’Accra in a performance fusion themed “environmentalism”.
Again, January 27, 2016 will see more of the group(poets from Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso) at The Write Experience II at the same venue (event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/735123143285966/). Whenever I travel, especially to other West African countries, I try as much as possible to get in touch through the grapevine with some practicing artists in these places and start conversations which end up with me documenting a little bit about them and their careers. I will post a few more from Burkina Faso. This here is one with an amazing painter, cartoonist, animator and multi-talented artist Abraham Abga:
KW: How is it? Can we start with a brief introduction?
AA: I am Abraham Abga. I was born and raised in Ouaga and I’ve practiced art all my life. My art is all about space occupation. I am inspired by spaces and art is liberty to invade and explore what can come out of making use of a space. It churns in me the williness to create. If it is a canvas, it is painting..if it is a stage it is voice and rhythm- performance..if it is paper it is a drawing and so on. My artistic switch is turned on when I see spaces and I’m triggered to make something out of the emptiness.
KW: What does art mean to you?
AA: Art is totally freedom. There are no limits. Many people used to say what I’m doing was foolish but it is that loose criticism that propelled me to higher heights. So I thank them for giving me wings to push further.
KW: Looking at the difficulties in the country for a while now as a result of unstable governance and undercurrents of neo-colonialism, how do you find your feet?
AA: Many artists can relate to the difficulties and problems. THE KING’S FALL- a series I created last few years was focused on expressing what was going on in the political terrain. Unfair politics and the one dimensional policies they put across causes a disrupt in society; looking at Campaore’s prolonged rule for instance. Even if they cut off my fingers or hands, I will never stop. This is what I was born to do, and more so for my dear country. They cannot stop my mind and my art is my revolution.
KW: I’ve noticed you do not put your art in a box. What is contemporary art in your books?
AA: I do contemporary painting. It is a window to the sociopolitical, economic and our cultural world.
KW: Where have you displayed your art?
AA: I have shown my work at Alliance Francaise in Accra twice. Also in France, Belgium and Germany. My art is different and stands out wherever I go. I write in Morri and that is my signature or trademark. I used to paint portraits in different colours and that is uniquely my style too. I think everybody in reality wears a mask. Society is built on a lot of personality deceptions. I never went to art school. It is a talent. Jean Michel Basquiat is an inspiration, but I do not need to follow the style of foreign artists like Picasso and co. My immediate environment is inspiration enough.
KW: What do you think of art from Africa currently? There seems to be a potential
AA: Yes. There is immense potential and we should focus and keeping it vibrant. France as an example, makes so much money from art and that boosts the economy.
KW: What are you working on at the moment?
AA: I just worked with Ouasila(who I will post about next) on a set design work for La Grand Nuit du Slam event. It was my first time doing set design. I am currently working on an animation project, again with Ouasila, who is doing the character design. We are coming up with an important piece that tells the sad story of Norbert Zongo‘s assassination.
Here are some of Abraham Abga’s works: