Méné: Artist Resume

From the youngest age, Méné expressed himself through drawing; when he turned 15, his parents realized that he really did want to become an artist, so they sent him to boarding school in an effort to dissuade him. Instead, Méné’s new teachers were so impressed by his talent that they convinced his parents to let him pursue the arts. His future was sealed: Méné was admitted the following year to the competitive Lycée d’enseignement artistique (Art High School) in Abidjan, and after he graduated, to the National School of Fine Arts.[1]

It was there, while doing research for his diploma work, that Méné discovered rock art[2]. It was love at first sight: the minimalism and expressionism of this art form, coupled with the roughness of the supports on which the pigments were applied, deeply resonated with him. Choosing to work on rock art was daring, though, as it was so unusual and distant from the school canons - but one of Méné’s professors, Yacouba Touré, was enthusiastic and supported him. Yak - as he was known - was amongst the most promising artists of his generation and a founder of the Daro-Daro movement, which advocated for “creation without limitations.” Sadly, Yak passed away shortly after Méné obtained his diploma; to this day, Méné is inspired by the charisma and the precepts of his mentor and teacher.

Méné’s artistic development has been shaped by major events and experiences. Retrospectively, he divides it into four periods:

Genesis (2001 – 2002) marks the beginning of his passion for rock art and primitive shapes. The artist describes it as going back to the origins and searching for his identity. During this period, Méné expressed his love for the roughness of the caves’ walls and the innocence emanating from rock art. He used kaolin, clay, sand, coal powder, bark and kola nut juice that he applied on cardboard whose edges he cut roughly. He created a link between rock art, graffiti and tag. Society, the series born during this period, focused on a reflection about politics, the oppression of people, and the expression of youth.

Desert Crossing (2003 – 2006) designates a period of adversity and, ultimately, of hope. The atmosphere in Côte d’Ivoire was heavy then. The civil war raged and people faced hardship and societal upheavals. On a personal level, Méné was also going through difficult times as both his parents had health issues and died.  He felt the need to free himself in order to focus on the essential - the supports he used became simpler and lighter, and his shapes more precise. No element was left to chance. This crossing demanded meditation and serenity.

Boribana (2007 – 2009), which means “end of the race” in Malinke [3], speaks of closure and new horizons as earlier sufferings receded and a new life began. Méné found love and his first child was born. Bright colors and a new aesthetic started to appear on the canvas as he let his spirit and imagination soar. He strived for perfection, both as an artist and a human being.

Radiant City (2010 - ) is the expression that Méné uses to describe the present. He feels fulfilled both in his personal and professional life, and this feeling permeates his work. His wide spectrum of bright colors as well as vibrant world of friendly and expressive hybrid creatures showcase his cheerful and optimistic attitude. Méné works mainly with acrylic on canvas and adds occasionally a small amount of kaolin to the paint for texture. In his search for the desired effect, he applies the paint not only with brushes, but also with twigs, pieces of wood that he has carved, and his fingers.

When Méné begins a painting, he does so without an end result in mind. His inspiration might be triggered by an emotion, a conversation, or the shape of a cloud, and then he improvises each step of the way, guided by his thoughts. During this “voyage”, he questions our strengths and frailties, our purpose, our place in the universe. He calls himself  “an explorer of the cosmos.”

In his recent work, Méné returns regularly to the theme of The Dream, which designates the power of our minds to take us to places unknown. When we look at his paintings, our imagination takes flight. It is not oriented or constrained by what we see on the canvas and can roam as freely as Méné’s art.    

At the start of his career, Méné’s  monochromatic and rock art-inspired paintings were more difficult to apprehend - although they already evoked for some Miró and Karel Appel - , and his collectors were mainly art connoisseurs. Nonetheless, instead of giving in and opting for a more mainstream approach, Méné continued to explore, experiment and create tirelessly. Today, his art is enjoyed by a large public and featured in numerous national and international collections, such as the Collection of HM Mohamed VI, King of Morocco. It has been exhibited, among other countries, in France, Senegal, Spain, and the USA.

[1]  Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts (part of INSAAC, the Institut National Supérieur des Arts et de l’Action Culturelle, Abidjan).

[2] The expression “rock art” is also referred to as “cave art” or “parietal art”. It is used to denote any prehistoric art found on cave walls.

[3]  Malinke is one of the languages spoken in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as in other countries of the region

Ange Martial Méné: Célébrer l’identité, interview by Océane Harati for SWAG magazine

Méné, by Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post, December 2, 2022  

Art Education

2007 – 2009 : Certification of Aptitude for Teaching Visual Arts (Certificat d’Aptitude Pédagogique pour l’Enseignement des Arts Plastiques - CAPEAS), INSAAC, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

1998 - 2002 : Diploma of Higher Education in the Arts (Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures Artistiques - DESA), Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts– ENBA, INSAAC, Abidjan


Solo exhibitions

Shaping Dreams, African Art Beats, Washington, DC, USA
Sankofa: Le Retour aux sources, OH Gallery, Dakar, Senegal
Le Monde de Méné, Galerie Amani, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Humaniste, OH Gallery, Dakar, Senegal
Dream World, Out of Africa Gallery, Barcelona, Spain
 Terre des hommes , Out of Africa Gallery, Barcelona, Spain
Phénix, L'Autre Rive Hôtel, Dabou, Côte d'Ivoire
Art et vin, Galerie Amani, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Collective exhibitions


Intertwined Narratives, African Art Beats, Washington DC, USA

Réalisme Onirique - Habiter le Réel, OH Gallery, Dakar, Senegal
Matière, OH Gallery, Dakar, Senegal
Galerie Amani, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
African Art Beats Inaugural Exhibit, Washington, DC, USA
Renaissance, OH GALLERY, Dakar, Senegal
AKAA – Also Known As Africa art fair, Paris, France
No border, Louis Simone Guirandou Gallery, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Love is Everywhere, Out of Africa Gallery, Sitges, Spain
Afrique pluriel, Out of Africa Gallery, Sitges, Spain
Visages d'Afrique, Out of Africa Gallery, Sitges, Spain
L'énigmatique désir, Arkadi 16th edition, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Dak'Art OFF- Biennale of African Contemporary Art, Dakar, Senegal
La poétique de la blessure, Arkadi 15th edition, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
2010 – 2003
Participated in nearly all editions of Arkadi, in Abidjan, as well as to exhibits in Côte d’Ivoire and France
HM Mohamed VI, King of Morocco
IFCIC, Paris
Cherkaoui Foundation, Morocco
Street Art Project, Murcia, Spain
Sodirep, Côte d’Ivoire
Eiffage, Senegal