Michel Kodjo (1935-2021) was the first Ivorian painter with a solo exhibition and the 2nd most celebrated after the now-deceased Christian Lattier.
Born on April 11, 1935, in Soumier Bia, a few miles from Aboisso, Michel attended primary school at the Ecole Primaire Supérieure in Aboisso and Abidjan from 1945 to 1950, and Carpentry apprenticeship in Treichville from 1950 to 1952. Then he discovered a new found love in painting whilst working as an Information Service officer in 1954. He held his first exhibition in 1957 at the Abidjan City Hall, after which he was granted a scholarship to study at Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Nice (France) from 1959 to 1961.
First Prize recipient for Drawing and Decoration by the City of Nice in 1964, he went on to attend the School of Fine Arts in Clermont-Ferrand in 1968 where he graduated with a Certificate in Art, before returning home to teach fine Arts at the Lycée Moderne de Grand-Bassam. His paintings were on exhibition in Paris and New York as early as 1970 and Ivory Coast with a grand exhibition at the French cultural centre in the capital city. He would set up a permanent studio in the quartier France of the World Heritage resort town of Grand-Bassam, where many artists, painters, sculptors and musicians live to this day. Beautiful sculptures and intriguing figures from all over Africa,inspired by mysticism and meditation are an integral part of his legacy.
Michel Kodjo died on 24 March 2021 at the age of 85. He will be sorely missed by the Nation.
Ivory Coast Tribune/Published 21/04/[email protected]:43