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Exhibition from April 13 to May 13, 2023

Awanle Ayiboro Hawa Ali, a 26-year-old Ghanaian painter, presents “The Abandoned Playground” at gallery Mathilde Le Coz, her very first personal exhibition. Through nearly twenty never seen works, the artist rewrites, under the blue filter of dreams charged with spleen and hope, the broken stories of women married by force, married too young, married before having been able to live their life.


Starting from a research based on the collection of testimonies, the artist rewinds the film of the life of women victims of forced child marriages until the moment everything changed. Awanle Ayiboro suspends the action and depicts them facing forward. The painter thus pauses the scene so that everyone can become aware of what is being played out. In the guise of the child they once were, it is these women who stare at us as they seem to observe themselves. These lookouts from the past warn in silence.  But not only: they show the way.


The vaporous impression diffused by the shades of blue and the fluid touch of the artist make these characters float in a soothing dream. Awanle Ayiboro mends the past, regaining control of the stories entrusted to her. In “The Mother” (2023) the little girl is not given in marriage in front of her primary school, she is accompanied home by her mother. In “The Playground” (2023) if the little girl holds the “goro” a candy traditionally offered to families in northern Ghana when a marriage is arranged, a partially truncated sign reads “Watch Children” - the artist summons the parents of the little girl to protect her, encourages them to stop the ongoing negotiations. Her stylized paintings, by the simplification of forms, the black outline and the simplification of backgrounds - not unlike certain synthetic works from the end of the XIXth century - have a universal scope and facilitate the identification of the viewers. The artist addresses children as well as their parents, she calls on society as a whole to change mores and evolve mentalities. In her series of small formats “Career Day” Awanle Ayiboro portrays little girls during an event which, in primary school, takes the form of  a role playing game where children can imagine themselves as adults in their dream job. The canvases are framed like family photos,  an exhortation to let daughters, sisters, nieces choose their future.


For the artist, painting is an act of emancipation, a self-affirmation for other women, the expression of a deep conviction that she hopes will resonate with as many people as possible. She owes her free choice and her self-determination to her paintbrush and it is with it that she wishes to raise awareness on the problem of forced marriages in Africa and in the world. Unlike many painters of the European scene of her generation, Awanle Ayiboro's studio is not an ivory tower or a room of one's own, it is anchored in the heart of society. Washing away her canvases of blue, she wishes to wash away a whole world of prejudice from unequal and liberticidal traditions depriving women of living their childhood and choosing their future, robbing them of a fundamental principle of human rights: the freedom to choose one's life. 

Awanle Ayiboro: The Abandoned Playground


Exhibition |Thursday April 13 - Saturday May 13, 2023

Opening |Thursday, April 13 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.


Mathilde Le Coz Gallery - Paris

11 rue Michel-le-Comte, 75003 Paris

Open Wednesday to Saturday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Contact |

+33 (0)6 35 60 11 07 - @mathildemlecoz

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