The Spirits Guide His Brush Art Exhibit

Innocence by Ephrem Kouakou Photo | City of Gaithersburg

Innocence by Ephrem Kouakou
Photo | City of Gaithersburg

The artwork of African painter Ephrem Kouakou will be on display through March 16  at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park, 506 South Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg. The public is invited to a free reception celebrating Arican American History Month and Kouakou’s works Feb. 18 from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m. Viewing hours at the Activity Center are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ephrem Kouakou is one of the world’s foremost African painters. He currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, and Ivory Coast, West Africa. His powerful, vivid paintings are in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum, New York, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C., and Fondo Del Sol Museum, Washington, D.C. He is noted for his bold blending of indigenous African visual sensibilities and folk motifs with Western creative techniques.

Born in 1962 in the Ivory Coast village of Toumodi, Kouakou is a member of the Baoule group of the Akan people. As a young man he trained to be a medicine man, participating in many initiation rites. This actualized a deep spiritual life that manifests in his work. Themes of community, the spiritual power of masks, protective spirits, and animal guides, are reflections of an unseen world that brings a deeper meaning to our lives.

Twins by Ephrem Kouakou Photo | City of Gaithersburg

Twins by Ephrem Kouakou
Photo | City of Gaithersburg

When he was 17 years old, Kouakou walked more than 2500 miles from his Ivory Coast village to Algeria, a journey which took more than three months. He then made his way to France, where he studied at France’s best art academies, including L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Angers (1981-1982), Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Aix-en Provence, (1982-1983) and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (1984-1986), where he graduated with honors.

Kouakou has exhibited in galleries and museums internationally including France, Belgium, Switzerland, and the United States. He is currently represented by Still Life Gallery in Ellicott City. The title of this exhibit reflects Kouakou’s experiences creating art as he genuinely feels the guidance of spirits with each stroke of the brush. For more information and to view Kouakou’s artwork, visit

Please note that all images are copyrighted by the artist.  For more information please contact Andi Rosati at 301.258.6350 or e-mail

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