Peace~ I was honored to be a delegate for Gabon at the pUN (the people’s United Nations), an exhibit by artist Pedro Reyes at the Queens Museum.It was one of the most thought-provoking artistic event I ever attended. There were cultural figures and activists from the 195 countries that are members of the United Nations so we all participated to the private conference/public performance… a very creative and all-inclusive way to tackle the world’s problems. I walked away from this experience convinced that if artists governed the world, there would be more peace and harmony on our blue planet!
Peace~ I worked on this 40″x30″ oil & acrylic painting for about two years and a half, I immensely enjoyed the process. “Sabia the Arabian Mystic” is part of the series “Luminous Dark Matter” which I consider as a lifetime project.
What I enjoy the most about creativity is that for the subject of it, everything seems to stop: the notions of time, space and even physicality vanish… All that matters is being empty, listening and executing what comes through…
“Sabia the Arabian Mystic” celebrates the exalted ancestry of the Black Arabs who have been discriminated against and oppressed on their own land for centuries so my intention in working on this painting was to honor the native Arabs whose grandiose past has been concealed by conventional history. You may read more about and see the whole piece here. May the low paradigm of racism cease so that we can truly evolve to embrace our primeval unity~
Peace your Way~ I just released “The Milky Way’s Savants” a 40″x30″ oil and acrylic painting that I worked on for quite a while as it’s very detailed. This piece essentially captures the manifestation of high culture on earth which is realized through advanced souls as their life always leads to a certain spiritual affluence in the region that they grace… To read more about the entire painting and the poem that inspired it, please click here.
For the children of Gabon who have been slaughtered in ritual crimes.
I painted “Martyred Children Laments” in 2005 to protest against the atrocious practice of human sacrifices in Gabon. Dedicated to all the precious children who have been slaughtered in these horrendous ritual crimes.
~Martyred Children Lament~
Child, O child,
you are a gift
from the Divine!
They coveted your light
with their ambition
for obscure ascension.
Atrociously, they preyed
on you: there is no power
to gain in such sacrifice,
One who unjustly takes a life
kills all of humankind.
Child, O child,
now bodiless, weightless,
you circle around
the sublime Throne;
soul singing His praises
as Djibreel wipes
your tears away.
©2005-2012 Aida Toure’
Tonight I took a walk through Zuccotti Park where the occupywallst protest is taking place. I saw young people in sleeping bags laying on the floor, artists painting, people in a circle meditating in the obscurity of the night, I got goosebumps seeing all this because these youths represent the majority of the planet who is demanding more equality, more justice, more peace, more integrity, more compassion and service from the institutions… it was an eery experience for me to read their signs and see them laying there, surrounded by the powerful energy of sacrifice, it truly is something that I’ve never seen before yet it renders tangible a phenomenon I have addressed in recent interviews: when people feel excluded and not listened to it leads to serious crisis so it would be wiser for the elitists to lend an ear and pay attention to what’s happening now.
Aïda Touré, a Gabonese artist presents her creations to the American public.
She moved to New York in order to study music, a multidimensional artist, she published three collections of poetry. She recently had an exhibit at the Rio Penthouse Gallery in New York which was appreciated by the American public.
You moved to New York in 1995 to study music, how come you have opted to pursue painting?
my first passion was music, but I discovered that art concealed a vast universe. It is in this context that Sufi poetry and then painting suddenly were revealed to me, without having received any formal training. One day, in silence I was reading one of my poems and something happened: the verses of this poem turned into images of indescribable beauty; I got moved by their sublimity so this is how I started painting these images and that I labeled this art “Visual Sufi Poetry”. Later on I met Steve Adams, an artist from California, who observed my work and helped me understand precisely which equipment and materials to select in order to crystallize my art works. I had never planned to become a painter nor a poet, it just happened unexpectedly. I also am a music composer, my album will be released soon. I experience these arts as one reality that unfolds on different octaves and which reflects this incandescence that is present in us all.
Were you encouraged on this artistic career by your family?
It is thanks to the unconditional love of my parents, my brothers and sister that I was able to pursue my artistic aspirations. Without their presence, their sacrifices and support, I don’t think that I would have followed my inner voice in this way. Creative and spiritual activity can only manifest in stillness and peace, my parents did everything to create this peaceful environment in their household. Also the cultivation of wisdom, integrity, individuality and perseverance instilled by my father has played a decisive role along my journey. We all have innate capabilities that await to manifest yet it’s important that our environment nurtures this process instead of interfering with it. Encouraging the youth to express their full capabilities would contribute to the thriving of our continent.
How old were you when you painted your first piece, what did it represent?
I painted my first piece at 32, it was entitled “The Flamboyant”, it represented the cosmos, in its center was a divine attribute that exuded luminous rays. This painting is dear to me because it constantly reminds me of the unconventional aspect of my journey.
How does inspiration come to you?
my inspiration comes from Islam which is an inner state of being where the self humbly surrenders to its Divine Source. My paintings capture the movements inherent to the Sufi poetry I compose.
What is the particularity of your paintings?
my paintings celebrate the Sufi tradition, their themes revolve around the quest for the Divine, bliss as well as the total blossoming of the individual; they also are colored with my Malian and Gabonese cultures. Each painting is unique and possesses a universal sacred message to decipher. Actually my paintings are like mirrors that reflect who we are deep within. On my website visualsufipoetry.com, I explain the meaning each piece so that viewers may have a sense of the symbolism behind their conception.
You recently had an exhibit in New York, how did the public react to your paintings?
my exhibit “Inner Treasures” curated by Jose Reyes was an enriching experience for me. The audience was intrigued and very moved by this art and its origin. I got the chance to interact with people of all ages who could relate to the spiritual themes of the artwork and this beyond the differences in languages, religions and cultures. I marveled at the level of understanding art can create, it is a phenomenal experience!
You also are a poet and in your poem “Art in Islam” you refer to the virtues of prayer, what do you think of the medias who project Islam as a negative religion?
When it comes to the appreciation of religions, everything is a matter of perception, intelligence, interpretation, sensibility as well as research. I think that any form of information can be tainted, falsified, or misinterpreted so that the majority is conditioned to have an erroneous perception of specific phenomena. The stigmatization of Islam has been ongoing for centuries, it aims at maintaining an elite’s monopoly over the resources which normally belong to the planetary collectivity. Whereas Islam in its authentic form has always denounced elitism, exclusion, oppression, exploitation, it has always encouraged equality of all people, love, peace, justice, knowledge, respect for diversity and freedom of all. It is important to do research in as many fields as possible because knowledge illuminates, it allows us to make better choices based on what we truly know and not based on what is reported to us by the medias and other.
You paint women with graceful gestures, sumptuously dressed; does woman illuminate man?
I used to mostly paint abstract pieces and then two years ago I did the album cover for a jazz musician which was a painting with five African women holding instruments. During the conception of this painting, I saw my art evolve toward the celebration of the feminine principle through its original manifestation on earth, thus African. I then decided to conceive a series of paintings entitled “Luminous Dark Matter” that depicts graceful women sometimes in an ancient historical context. It was a way for me to celebrate, through my pen and brushes, the majestic octave of Africa which is oftentimes omitted from history. I also must stress that on my paintings, women symbolize the soul, therefore their sumptuousness evokes their spiritual essence that is transmitted through their progeny. It is the consciousness of this essence which illuminates not only men but all humanity as well.
Isn’t it difficult for an African artist to make it in the US where there are so many other talented artists?
I think it depends on the artist’s expectations as well as the specificity of her/his art. I believe that there is enough room for all artists wherever they are, with their different inspirations and forms of expression. We’ve been used to the culture of competition yet in a field like art whose true purpose is to uplift people, there shouldn’t be any competition. With the internet, the promotion of arts has become more accessible especially for independent artists whose innovative works defy conventional norm. I always encourage artists to have a web site/blog. African art is appreciated here, it is renown to have inspired movements like cubism for instance which actually comes from Gabon. Artists should dare to innovate and be fearless in honoring their own individual paths because when an artist has something truly unique and rare to express s/he must cease opportunities to share it with their fellow beings.
Do you have the sentiment that you are contributing to the promotion of African culture in the US?
yes I have this humble sentiment and even more so because Africa generates a particular interest in the fields of arts, fashion, history, natural medicine, spirituality. There is a real fascination for the immense potential that Africa possesses. As far as creativity is concerned, it is a universal experience where frontiers between people seem to dissolve; everybody just unites beyond the superficial considerations that can separate us. But considering that Africa is the cradle of mankind, isn’t it natural that it’s through her that we gather to reminisce over our common origin? It is in this paradigm that art created from an African perspective is essential.
What is your greatest wish?
in this world that is currently undergoing great upheavals, with the masses’ aspirations for more freedom, more equality, my greatest wish would be to see the institutions that govern the world finally align themselves with the authentic and urgent needs of humanity who is in constant evolution. It would be a great advent if the masses were more included in the shares of planetary resources. We already see that the old exploitative structures that interfere with the development of Africa are collapsing, these disharmonious systems must either vanish or adapt to the current reality that demands inclusion of the majority in the prosperity of nations.
Interview conducted by Ahmed Touré for Amina Magazine issue 495/July 2011.
From an early age, I wondered from whence came this immensity around us: the sky, oceans, stars, mountains, nature in general, all this spectacle fascinated and intrigued me.
Yes these three arts unravel to express the same idea of rapture that is continuous, timeless; through my artistic activities, I aspire to honor it and to share it with my fellow beings because it emanates from this luminescence in us all that unites us in the same Source.
I think there is a sort of awakening, people are getting more and more interested in the richness of their ancestral culture that was demeaned by colonization, they fervently reclaim their rights to be free, to prosper, to be respected, they do not want to be treated as excluded citizens on their own land so they demand that the representatives of institutions harmonize with this momentum instead of attempting to suppress it. People are revolted by the confiscation of their resources, and even culturally this sentiment is increasingly expressed by African artists and it will intensify until there is real change.