Harouna Ouedraogo

Can you introduce yourself ?

I am a 35 years old artist. I am from Burkina Faso but I have been living in the area of Lyon since 2009. I also work in Burkina Faso and in the United States periodically.

Why did you choose this profession?

It’s not really a choice. Since childhood I have been interested in drawing. This quickly became a passion. I dreamt of being able to draw beautiful landscapes and portraits.

Eager to learn more and more, I turned to painting but never give up drawing. I took artistic anatomy from human model then I evolved from the “normal” drawing on a more personal design. This has been revealing and allowed me to take my artistic way: I understood that we can express ourselves in different ways and more broadly. And that is exactly what I wanted.

Painting is for me the best tool for me to express myself and show my emotions. Unlike other artists, I can not express myself through photography or sculpture even though both are art forms that I appreciate.

What is your background?

I followed a classical education until my last year in high school. But in parallel, I learned to draw by myself. Around the age of 12, I joined a multipurpose band in which several artistic universes were represented: learning drawing and painting, dance, theater, music and choreography.

These years have not been easy because I had to juggle school and my passion for art.

In 2000, I was admitted in the “l’Institut National de Formation Artistique et Culturel.” This structure in cooperation with the French Cultural Centre and the Ministry of Culture were providing scholarships and I was lucky to get one in the second year.

This scholarship was making equipment and training in anatomy in drawing the human body available. This was a good addition and allowed me to explore drawing in more detail, but also to improve myself.

This training went on so well that I have been quickly brought to conduct workshops while continuing to draw and train myself.

I later started working on pure abstraction. My paintings do not represent specific forms. The focus is rather on the colors and various techniques. By the time I added more figurative forms which led me to combine the two and thus to the semi figurative!

Which artist influenced you?

There are classic painters who influenced me as Picasso and William Turner. Actually these are the books I had access back then. This is a quiet and deep painting. I particularly like how Turner was working with colors.

Today, I turn into more living things, more practical because I feel the need to express myself through painting. A character like Basquiat struck me. This is not so much his work that impressed me but the character of the person we can guess through his work.

I also appreciate the work of Soly Cissé who has the ability to transform the characters, give character to the expression in form and colors.

Have your relatives always supported you in your decision to become an artist?

Let’s say, kind of. My mother was a weaver. I think her work, especially the colors she used inspired me. She did not understand at all my attraction for arts and thought it was best to follow a classical education.

As for my father, although reluctant at first, quickly realized that the traditional system did not suit me and encouraged me in my choice. I believe he felt it when I got my BEPC after the fifth time.

He thus supported my artistic studies. He is a person with a very open mind and also influenced me a lot.

What reflect your works?

For me it represents a kind of singular vision of the insane. In fact, when I work I don’t ask myself any questions. I don’t think. I don’t try to reproduce a gesture or line. And in that sense, I do not think I have any particular signatures. Maybe the people who know and love my work recognized a common trait but for my part I am not sure there is one. And if there is, it is quite unconscious.

Where did you get your inspiration?

I always start with a base. In recent times, this base is everything related to social urban.

Just a few years ago, it was mainly focused on Africa since I lived there and that’s all I knew. But with my travels, my field of expression and practices has widened. I try not to be confined in a box and as an artist I can explore other universes.

So my inspiration comes from Africa and elsewhere, but also from the different elements whether physical or not.

I am also inspired by the news but I make sure that this does not necessarily reflect on my works. I like to put up a smokescreen.

How do you work? What are the steps in the creation?

When I start, I install multiple media simultaneously, either paper or canvas or both at once. But one thing is that I need to have these materials in quantity. I like jumble. It gives me a sense of unparalleled freedom.

The gesture has a prominent place in my creative process and therefore, I think moving the way I’m going to attack the media. This can last very long. Once I start painting, quite often I go back not to improve a technique or color but rather to try to build things out of the ordinary, draw non-compliant forms … For me, art is a form of expression that allows us to express ourselves freely, without limit. That is the reason why I like to play with shapes by distorting them.

I’m not trying to make sense and I love to achieve what I want.

What is the stage you like to create?

I like the beginning because it allows me to have fun, practice gestures corresponding to what I want to express on the support.

And I like the end also at it allows me to repair the damages I have done. Well this is how I see it. I like when the painting is finished and to take time to observe each work.

When You start a creation, do you have a clear idea of ​​the desired outcome?

Most of the time when I start working with a clear idea, I end up with something else. Which in itself is a good thing because I get to surprise myself and it’s pretty exciting!

Also, when I start with a purpose, I feel like I’m repeating myself, that the painting that I am trying to achieve is a copy of another painting.

I prefer spontaneous labor, transcribing a thought or emotion that I live in the present moment. That is why I have a lot of paintings and ongoing works. I constantly feel the need to show my feelings.

I do not produce according to exhibitions, I paint all the time.

Which of your creation you like the most?

Each work has its own characteristics, its own history and characters. Each painting is unique and new.

As I said earlier, I do not think I have any particular style. Besides this term “style” doesn’t mean anything for me.

Where do you work?

My studio and my home are two very different places. I work in a local named “Le Hang’art des Créateurs” with artisans who each have their workshop. It is also a venue hosting hosts monthly exhibitions.

This is my little sanctuary. This is the place in France where I feel the best. I spend a lot of time.

The workshop helps to contain and live what we have created. I work a lot with the gestures so the workshop is useful because I can move in my space without paying attention to others.

I also love working outdoors especially when I’m in Africa.

Are you a member in an association, collective or other?

In the past yes. I used to be a founding member of “Hangar11” in Ouagadougou which is a place created by a collective of artists. This space is devoted to contemporary art and artistic creation. I had to withdraw myself a bit because of the distance.

We also created an association called “Les Autres Yeux” in the Hangar11, but since I live in France, I am much less involved.

Here, for legal and professional reasons, I am affiliated to “La Maison des Artistes”.

What are your current projects?

Currently I have an exhibition in Nashville in the United States in the Nomad Gallery.

I paint and also expose my work in New Mexico, in the US always in collaboration with the gallery owner who takes care of my works permanently.

In France, I exhibit as a part of “Get Arty”, a traveling gallery, without fixed place. They are always in search of the best locations for events.

I will also exhibit at Le Hang’art des Créateurs in November in Lyon, and at the Gmac in Paris.



Promotion de l’Art Africain

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