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Ephrem Kouakou Abstract Contemporary African Paintings
- Ephrem now holds all his paintings in the Ivory Coast -
Read his impressive Resume from Collectors & Museums here!
The Spirit in Ephrem's African Art Paintings
We had the good fortune of meeting African artist Ephrem Kouakou through his representatives at The Still Life Gallery in Maryland. The Gallery invited us to market Ephrem's artworks on our site. In early 2015, Ephrem Kouakou took back his paintings as he has a new family in the Ivory Coast.
Ephrem has been in and out of the States for 15 years, but his home is always Ivory Coast, West Africa.
His moving, colorful African art paintings are in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art & The Fondo Del Sol Museum, both in Washington, D.C. More notably, Ephrem Kouakou's artwork can also be seen in New York City at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition, Ephrem has exhibited in Belgium, Switzerland, & Paris. His name is all around the Internet & art collectors' circles, making him one of the world's leading African painters. Of his work, Christine Mullen Kreamer, a co-director and curator at the National Museum of African Art, says in likeness that Ephrem's work " is pure powdered pigment mixed with acrylic medium and uses a fairly decorative approach. Kouakou's imagery draws on traditional African culture, including references to sculptural arts and spiritual life."
African artist Ephrem Kouakou's pieces are diverse and mystifying, using indigenous African folk motifs and native African visual sensibilities with Western creative art styles. The pieces he creates blends valued ancestry with modern culture. They are similar to archetypal visions, but Ephrem combines his own contemporary and spiritual beliefs into them, making his own, unique iconography. Truly Ephrem's art draws from his influence of the Spirit world and rituals that were a part of his growing up.
Ephrem paints best in the middle of the night. He finds his spiritual self best at that time and believes he can draw on his ancestors' spirits at this time too. He meditates often and through this process believes God directs his African artwork in the direction it needs to go. Ephrem Kouakou says that spirits of Africa move his brush in the direction of what the painting is to become as he cooperates continuously. From these Spirits come folkloric images of masks, odd animals, rich foliage, and abstract human figures with big eyes apparently watching you from any angle with an imaginary landscape in the background, surrounded and encompassed by dots and small lines.
But does Ephrem Kouakou draw only on his community of Spirits? No, he uses his education and logic as well. He attended three of France's best art academies in the 1980's: The L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, Angers (1981-1982), Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Aix-en Provence, (1982-1983) and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (1984-1986). He graduated with honors.
Ephrem has always wanted to paint. It is something that has chosen him, he did not choose it. But it is not haunting, it is a beautiful process that for him is therapeutic, healing, and in the end, very satisfying for a man who, like all of us, just wants to express himself.
1962 was the year of Ephrem's birth in Toumodi, an Ivory Coast Village. Ephrem was born into the Akan tribe within the Baoule group.
At present, Ephrem is returning to Africa to continuously work on his art. He says he has no specific goal but the continuous work towards developing his artwork at a higher level. He believes "in the continuation of work, not giving it up and not lacking basic materials. We warmly provide Ephrem's biography to our site, and thank him for selling his paintings with us throughout 2012-2014.
Ephrem Kouakou & his African painting "Four Fertility Masks." Ti Jay, an artist on our site, is on the right.
Information for this write up was compiled by True African Art's own interview with the artist, and articles from The Still Life Gallery and Arthur Hirsch from the Baltimore Sun.