International celebrity in the art world, Cameroonian artist Barthélémy Toguo has, like his fellow African El-Anatsui at the Conciergerie de Paris, obtained Carte blanche from the Fondation Dapper since May 19 for the presentation of the exhibition « Désir d’humanité, les univers de Barthélémy Toguo » open until December 5, 2021.
In the exhibition « Désir d’humanité, les univers de Barthélémy Toguo », his works express an extraordinary imperiousness filled with revolt, commitment and transgression through drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations, videos. He relates the tortures of the world to better discover them: wars, mistreatment by force, immigration, famines… but also, he questions man and our propensity to become aware of the difficulties and wrongs that disturb our societies.
Through his work, he challenges prejudices with his work « Strange Fruit », the lack of water with « Water Matters », forced migrations with « Road to Exile » or « Déluge XI », he confronts from time to time the challenge of naming, notably with his photographic series « Stupid Black President ».
Between blood red watercolors, showing bodies in torment, sometimes bristling with nails; imposing installations that question the possible fate of the planet… It is through the crystal of encounters that his works create a complete link with the pieces of ancient African art of the Fondation Dapper. As if to give a clear and precise outline of his responsibilities and his work.
The committed visual artist Barthélémy Toguo
Barthélémy Toguo is a leading figure on the contemporary African scene. He currently divides his time between his art center in Cameroon and France. His goal since the age of 17 is to make people dream through his art.
After entering Abidjan to study at the Beaux-Arts, he went to the Ecole Supérieure d’Art in Grenoble, then to the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, Germany, before being seen in 2000 at the Lyon Biennale.
He had an interesting exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in 2004, then at the Centre Pompidou for the exhibition « Africa Remix » in 2005 and in many other major cultural institutions.
For him, art is certainly not a singular pleasure, but a method to move the greatest number of individuals, an objective he has been pursuing since his first works, for example « Transit(s) », which dates from 1996 and denounces the segregation suffered by minorities at border crossings, in airports and train stations. Or his presentation in New York in 2001, where he washed an American flag with water during the « Political Ecology » exhibition, as if to reprove the United States’ refusal to sign the Kyoto agreements. Or his series of chippings on the memory of slavery. He negotiates ruthlessly with the appalling element of history, the dramatizations of daily existence, the delicacy and weakness of people.
Today, revolted by the theft and looting of African art objects by colonists, explorers and missionaries, he deplores the imposition of the commercial model of contemporary African art by private collectors and exhibition museums of nations outside of Africa.
What he denounces is the lack of cultural approach of African nations. Barthelemy Toguo considers that the elites of the continent and the diaspora must wake up, because after the deficiency of traditional art, it is currently the contemporary art that also leaves Africa.
It is this framework that he tries to fight by opening in his country, Cameroon, a space, at the same time residence of artists and museum, « Bandjoun Station », which accomodates the local creation, but also artists of the whole world. The whole in a non-profit objective on three hectares, and housing an experimental farm focused on food independence.
Finalist for the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2016, the Centre Pompidou welcomed him to exhibit alongside the other participants, Kader Attia who will win the edition of the same year, Yto Barrada and Ulla von Brandenburg. He proposed the work « Vaincre le virus », eighteen porcelain vases of two meters high, painted with images praising the fight against AIDS and Ebola. What for him is a kind of water receptacle, which regenerates when healthy, can be a source of threat when contaminated. A kind of attraction for our conscience to all. Remember, the exhibition « Désir d’humanité, les univers de Barthélémy Toguo » continues until December 5, 2021 at the Fondation Dapper in Paris.