Ivorian artist paints as bullets whizz overhead

Fri Apr 29, 2011 3:39pm EDT
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By Finbarr O'Reilly

ABIDJAN (Reuters Life!) - While fighting raged on the streets outside his studio in Abidjan and stray bullets hissed through the air overhead, Ivorian artist Aboudia painted.

Only when the walls of his studio shook from the concussions of nearby explosions did Aboudia, 26, seek shelter in a basement.

"I was so afraid while I was painting all these tableaus," he said, casting a glance over a collection of work created during the months of political upheaval in the West African nation since a disputed election last November.

"Some work was hard to finish, a lot of the paint is running, dripping. It's not intentional, but it's like fear or sweat, or tears -- like my soul is crying," said Aboudia, whose full name is Abdoulaye Diarrasouba.

His work over the past few months provides a haunting interpretation of the uncertainty and violence sweeping the country since incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power after losing an election to his rival Alassane Ouattara.

The deadlock was broken when Gbagbo was arrested two weeks ago after French and United Nations forces attacked his military installations and residence.

Thousands died during the unrest. The main city of Abidjan remains awash with fighters and violence has simmered.

MOMENT IN HISTORY   Continued...

<p>Work by Ivorian painter Abdoulaye Diarrasouba, 26, who goes by the name Aboudia, begs for help from United Nations peacekeepers during recent upheaval in Ivory Coast, at his studio in the main city Abidjan, April 19, 2011. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly</p>