Water “is a priceless and vital element that invites us to dream and gives us life“. Barthélémy Toguo brings his assertion to life with “Water is a right“, an immersive exhibition highlighting the importance of this resource and its flagrant lack in various parts of the world. Until October 07, 2023, Gallery Lelong & Co. will be delighted to welcome this new series of works by the Franco-Cameroonian artist.
Born in Mbalmayo, Cameroon, in 1967, Barthélémy Toguo studied art between 1989 and 1993 at the Ecole of Beaux-Arts in Abidjan. He then continued his studies in Grenoble, before completing his degree at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. Today, the artist resides in Europe, and despite obtaining French citizenship, he remains deeply attached to his country of origin, where he spends regular periods of time. The creation of the Bandjoun Station cultural center, inaugurated in 2013, is ample proof of his attachment to Cameroon and his contribution to the country’s cultural development.
The “Water is a right” exhibition is also the fruit of his life spent in Cameroon. Indeed, Barthélémy Toguo asserts: “It all started with a childhood memory. I remember getting up very early in the morning to fetch water from far away, to drink, to wash the plates at home, at home in Cameroon, before going to school. I also thought of the multicolored pots and buckets in which I carried the precious liquid. Since I moved to France, these images have come back to me regularly. It was these ordeals that made me realize how important water is in our lives“.
The artist then drew inspiration from his past to create realistic works and installations that address this global issue. You’ll find his installation at the World of Music Arts and Dance (WOMAD) in 2015, following Peter Gabriel’s invitation to Charlton Park in England. His “Water Matters” exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly is another symbolic work in which he calls for the distribution of blue gold to every corner of the globe.
Through his unique artistic practice, Barthélémy Toguo highlights the current problems of access to drinking water in different regions of Africa and the rest of the world. The “Water is a right” exhibition transforms the Gallery Lelong & Co. into a marine environment inhabited by creatures both real and imaginary. The artist presents the public with a blue world imbued with gentleness and marvellous beauty. Although the depths of the sea may prove reckless, they offer an unrivalled visual and tactile softness that beckons collision. Indeed, a fall into a body of water is more reassuring than one onto a rock.
The art space features new works created for the exhibition as part of a residency at Barcelona’s Picasso Museum. He invites visitors to discover his aquatic universe, where fish and birds cohabit. Paintings, sculptures, an amphora and ceramics with soft, flowing forms – all these objects have been chosen by the Franco-Cameroonian artist to materialize a soothing blue world.