Jean-Baptiste Djeka: Artist Resume

Artistic Course 

Djeka was born Waoulé (more commonly known as Baoulé) in a matriarchal society in Côte d’Ivoire; he bears the name of his mother, a princess of the Akan kingdom.

As far back as he can remember, he has been driven by an unquenchable curiosity. He was a preschooler when he started asking his parents strange questions that bothered them coming from such a young child: Where do I come from? Why was I born a boy and not a girl? Why is the sun not the moon? ….

A single child who preferred to be alone, he favored expressing himself through drawing. His first canvas was the dirt, and twigs were his brushes. Once in school, he participated in competitions – and though he usually won, he felt that art should not be a way of measuring oneself against others as it came so naturally to him.

While Djeka’s mother was supportive of his aspirations - to become an artist, his banker father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and refused to finance his studies. As was the tradition, Djeka turned to his maternal uncle for help, but pretended that he would study agronomy instead. It took him a year to reveal that he had integrated the Centre Technique des Arts Appliqués (Technical Center of Applied Arts) of Bingerville, in Côte d’Ivoire.

Today, Djeka considers himself an ambassador of his culture. He explains that being Waoulé is much more than belonging to a people or sharing a language. It is adhering to a frame of reference, a set of behaviors, a philosophy, a thought that is both African and universal: humans are intrinsically good, share similar dreams, and have the potential to do great deeds - so there is hope for mankind. Through his art, Djeka aims to participate in the building of a society at peace with itself, where individuals can express themselves while respecting the values and conceptions of others.

Djeka draws his inspiration from the emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual worlds, and in particular from the esoteric patrimony of his community, his region and, by extension, Africa. He summarizes it as being inspired by “humans in their environment and in the universe - in all their plurality, visible and invisible.” This inspiration is palpable on the canvas, where every detail is deliberate and displays this fundamental connection between the physical and the metaphysical.

The characters that he brings to life exude energy and power. Built like African wooden sculptures or with faces like masks, they seem to be covered with an encrusted patina like sacred objects which have received repeated offerings. To achieve this effect, Djeka uses specific techniques and media, He works on canvas, paper, cardboard, and wood with acrylic, chalk, charcoal, crayon, pastel, glue, fabric, and paper, as well as with natural pigments such as ashes, clay, kaolin, or medicinal plants that he has decocted or ground. He drips and splashes the paint to create ritualistic textures, and each color that he uses has a meaning: red is life and vitality; blue is hope; yellow is radiance; green is regeneration; black and white stand for serenity. While the color he uses the most is red, his favorite color is purple representing spirituality.

Djeka shares that when he creates, he feels connected to his inner self, to his ancestors, and to the whole universe. It is a “spiritual connection, a connection of bliss, of grace, of life.”


Artistic Training

2002 – 2006 Studio of Augustin Kassi, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

2002 – 2004 Studios of Diomande and Fadaïro, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

1999 – 2004 Studio Batik and Scenic Decoration Yapi Roger, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

1999 – 2003 Centre Technique des Arts Appliqués (CTAA) de Bingerville – graduates with the Brevet technique des arts appliqués (BTAA)



Solo Exhibitions


Les différents noms de Dieu, Galerie Amani, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Les visages de Dieu, Galerie Amani, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Un recours aux sources pour une introspection vraie, Galerie Houkami, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


La vérité du mensonge de nos ancêtres, Ciel ouvert, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Collective Exhibitions


Djenart, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Centre Kaolack, Dakar, Senegal

Rotonde des Arts, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Villa Sopia, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Abidjan Art Fair, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Musée des cultures contemporaines Adama Toungara, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Prête-moi ton Rêve, Galarie Amani, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Oda gallery, Art Madrid’19, Madrid, Spain


Oda Gallery, Franschhoek, South Africa

Goethe Institut, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Agadir Art Fair, Casablanca, Morocco

Les grandes cimaises, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Abidjan Art Fair, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Le Centre, Cotonou, Benin

Une toile pour sauver l’enfant, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Musée d’art contemporain de Cocody, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

BICICI Art Wash, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

MASA, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Dak’Art OFF, Dakar, Senegal


Jack Bell Gallery, London, UK

Serengeti Gallery, Washington, DC, USA

FESPACO, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso


Salon International des Arts Plastiques d’Abidjan (SIAPA), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Palais de la Culture, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Galerie Le Lab, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


ART’IVOIRE, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire


Musée des Civilisations de Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire



2003 – Grand Prize Winner of the Azito Competition, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

In 2009, Djeka was Laureate of the Grand Prix Guy Nairay for Photography (Côte d’Ivoire)



 2020 - Festival Libre Art, Nouakchott, Mauritanie

2017 - Le Centre, Cotonou, Bénin


Djeka spent several months in Ghana in 2016, Togo in 2015, Mali in 2014, Benin in 2013 and Burkina Faso in 2012 to deepen his knowledge of the arts and of themes related to new series of work he was going to dive into.



Collection of HM Mohamed VI, King of Morocco

Numerous private and public collections


In the Media

High Life, British Airways’ award winning on board magazine, March 2019 issue.

Zoom sur l’artiste plasticien J.B. Djeka, Africa 24, March 2018

TV5Monde, March 2017