Saturday, 9 June 2012

Augustin Kassi

An exhibition celebrating the ample figures of some African women has opened in Ivory Coast ‘s main city of Abidjan, „I wanted to fight the corner for so-called „big“ women who in their day were disliked and even imprisoned by the attitude that they weren’t beautiful, - Ivorian painter Augustin Kassi said at the opening.
Augustin Kassi began drawing and painting at a young age and later went to Art College. The main medium for his paintings today is oil and water. However, his career did not take off until he was inspired by a chance conversation he overheard. He says: “I was on a small bus when a fat woman climbed aboard and the conductor said ‘madam, you’ll have to pay for two seats.’ I said to myself, madam has to pay for two seats, that’s quite something, but why shouldn’t such women be in my paintings.” Augustin Kassi is now the champion of all categories of ‘fat women’. Augustin is convinced that fat women are victims of fashion, which revolves around thinner or anorexic women. In Africa, the so-called strong woman is synonymous with sensuality as she is well built and comes across as healthy.

„I took the stand to say: „No, you’re beautiful – that’s how God created you. Take care with what you eat, doi a little sport, and we love you” I love them,” – Kassi told the BBC. 

Axelle Osombo, one of the visitors at the exhibition said: „I think it’s original because we’re used to seeing paintings of landscapes or thin women and it shows the value of large women. I really appreciate it – especially being large and beautiful myself“. 

 “They’re pretty and it represents real African women because in Africa when you have one or two children you take on a new form and that’s what the painter shows us in his work.”  - another visitor Awa Toure said.
Kassi’s exhibition is part of the International Biennial of Naive Art in Abidjan (Bina), which is now its fourth edition and this year brings together artists from more than 10 African countries including Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana.

Compiled and written by Natalia Alekseyeva

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