How to Paint Ghosts: An Interview with Ivorian artist Aboudia

“Artists don’t create reality they make phantasms”, using a kind of “fantastical technique to produce an artificial dream for the waking world”. At least that’s what Plato thought. In the paintings of Aboudia, we cannot be sure if the figures are alive or dead, if the nightmare they inhabit is reality or fabrication. The figures are drawn in the brutal and naive style of a child, but they are not so easily identified: these are not the same photogenic children pictured on adverts for development funds and charities, inviting paternalistic investment, but sketchy, ghostly figures whose mouths are not prettily silent or widely smiling but cancelled out, eyes not vacant but withdrawn, their speech impossible and thoughts illegible, they are unavailable to the viewer, but their unknowability confronts us like a crisis. Continue reading