Quick link: The Color and the Shape

Writing over at EthnoTraveler today about Djiboutian artists. This picture is from last year’s Independence Day, painted along a wall near the center of town.

Art in Djibouti

Yahye is a Djiboutian painter. Before I met Yahya, I confess, I had low expectations. I had seen Djiboutian paintings, or thought I had. Rows of them lean up against the curb by the Oil Libya gas station near the port. More paintings line the sidewalk across from the Cinquiéme grocery store.

These paintings are garish: orange sunrises with little nuance or depth of color, women carrying babies, their bodies devoid of dimension and personality, trees sketched with no character, animals painted with little imagination. One unrealistic painting shows camel sillouhettes in front of a towering acacia tree on the shore of a mountain-ringed lake. Another has two camels walking between mountains toward a cartoonishly red, orange, green, blue, and white starkly rendered rainbow.

The only people who buy these paintings are tourists and expatriates and I often wondered where they wound up once they got home. I wondered about the artists and I wondered if this was the best Djibouti had to offer. I knew there had to be more. But where to find it?…

Click here to read more about Yahye and the struggle of Djiboutian artists to find a way to encourage each other and display their work: The Color and the Shape