Ivorian painter Augistin Kassi’s latest exhibition pays homage to his country’s rubenesque women. Although curvaceous women are often celebrated in art, Kassi said he wanted to highlight “big” women to remind them of their beauty.

“I wanted to fight the corner for so-called ‘big’ women who in their day were disliked and even imprisoned by the attitude that they weren’t beautiful,” Kassi told the BBC.

Kassi’s colorful style and expressive imagery was inspired by a trip he’d taken from Abidjan to Bingerville. While he rode in the “gbaka” (a mini-bus), a larger woman got on the bus and the driver attempted to charge her for two seats. An argument broke out and Kassi was inspired to work on his collection.

The exhibition has been well received in Abidjan, especially by some women who—for the first time—see themselves represented in art.

“They’re pretty and it represents real African women,” Awa Toure, an exhibit visitor told the BBC, “because in Africa when you have one or two children you take on a new form and that’s what the painter shows us in his work.”

Check out more images from Augistin Kassi’s collection on the BBC website

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