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b. 1967, Cameroon

Barthélémy Toguo Biography

Charged by a number of deeply political themes such as migration, colonialism, and race, Barthélémy Toguo is interested in destabilising common notions of the world by creating representations that are stranger and differently nuanced.

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Toguo has found his home in a range of media. In watercolour—a medium he has frequently returned to—he toys with the borders between saturation and drought, between the real and the fantastic, between identities and species. He has described watercolour as a medium 'you cannot cheat' and believes it produces intimate and sincere expressions of the artist's spirit. For 'Baptism' (1999) he created a set of monochromatic images depicting strange scenes in which, for example, feathers sprout from a human silhouette or a man urinates in a bathtub, evoking surreal narratives in which the mundane and the horrific sit side-by-side.

When Toguo was young, his home-country of Cameroon had no arts institutions. He attended Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts in the nearby Côte d'Ivoire after a childhood spent drawing market scenes and modelling cargo trucks in bamboo. He later studied in France, discovering a passion for video, photography, and—later, during studies in Germany—performance art. He ultimately settled between Bandjoun and Paris. In Cameroon in 2008, he opened the Bandjoun Station—a non-profit creative workshop—as a grassroots solution to the nation's lack of arts infrastructure.

Toguo's decision to work between continents matches his interest in the relationships between political circumstances. In Urban Requiem—exhibited in the Venice Biennale's 56th International Art Exhibition, All the World's Futures—the artist presented 105 wooden stamps, each carrying a message such as 'DON'T SHOOT' (referring to various racially motivated shootings in the United States) and 'NOT IN MY NAME' (referring to a protest slogan used after a series of murders of Muslim and Dalit people). The phrases were stamped onto papers pinned throughout the space. This 'urban requiem', according to the artist, represents 'the great cry of those who are suffering'. He calls for a sense of unity, stating, 'The whole world is at stake here'.

Toguo also reflected on global responsibility in his Prix Marcel Duchamp 2016 finalists' exhibition installation, Vaincre le virus! ('Beating the virus!'), which included 18 Jingdezhen ceramic vases depicting viruses, flowers, animals, and self-portraits. The work celebrates research efforts towards curing AIDS and Ebola, with a particular focus on the Institut Pasteur in France and its sister organisation in Dakar. Reflecting on the research of institutions across two countries (France and Senegal) in the symbolism and production methods of a third country (China), the artist showed once again that the world is connected and collectively 'at stake'.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2019

Barthélémy Toguo Featured Artworks

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We Can't Breath by Barthélémy Toguo contemporary artwork
Barthélémy ToguoWe Can't Breath, 2019Woodblock print on paper
65 x 50 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
Stronger Together by Barthélémy Toguo contemporary artwork
Barthélémy ToguoStronger Together, 2019Woodblock print on paper
65 x 50 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
A Philosopher's Brain by Barthélémy Toguo contemporary artwork
Barthélémy ToguoA Philosopher's Brain, 2002–2003Watercolour on paper
28.5 x 38.5 cm
HdM GALLERY Enquire
Corporeal Blue by Barthélémy Toguo contemporary artwork
Barthélémy ToguoCorporeal Blue, 2018Acrylic and watercolour on canvas
100 x 100 cm
HdM GALLERY Enquire
#TimesUp by Barthélémy Toguo contemporary artwork
Barthélémy Toguo#TimesUp, 2019Wood, ink
11.8 x 19.7 x 18.5 inches
Galerie Lelong & Co. New York Contact Gallery
No Justice No Peace by Barthélémy Toguo contemporary artwork
Barthélémy ToguoNo Justice No Peace, 2019Wood, ink
12.6 x 19.3 x 19.5 inches
Galerie Lelong & Co. New York Contact Gallery

Barthélémy Toguo Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Barthélémy Toguo, If Not Now, When? at Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris, Paris
Closed
3 September–10 October 2020 Barthélémy Toguo If Not Now, When? Galerie Lelong & Co., 13 Rue de Téhéran, Paris13 Rue de Téhéran, Paris
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, RED at Galerie Lelong & Co. New York, New York
Closed
10 April–8 May 2020 Group Exhibition RED Galerie Lelong & Co. New YorkOnline Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Show, Group Show at HdM GALLERY, London
Closed
24 January–27 February 2020 Group Show HdM GALLERY, LondonLondon

Barthélémy Toguo Represented By

HdM GALLERY contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom HdM GALLERY Beijing, Hangzhou, London
Stevenson contemporary art gallery in Cape Town, South Africa Stevenson Cape Town, Johannesburg

Barthélémy Toguo In Ocula Magazine

Asia Now to Show Online With Ocula Ocula News Asia Now to Show Online With Ocula Paris, 13 October 2020

Leading global galleries Perrotin, Templon and Almine Rech are among those joining the fair for the first time.

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Barthélémy Toguo In Related Press

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BARTHÉLÉMY TOGUO: THE NOMADIC ARTIST BALANCING THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD ON THE TIP OF HIS PAINT BRUSH Related Press BARTHÉLÉMY TOGUO: THE NOMADIC ARTIST BALANCING THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD ON THE TIP OF HIS PAINT BRUSH 18 June 2019, Hunger

The nomadic artist has spent years cultivating his craft. City to city, embracing identities and cultures and leaving remnants of himself behind; with every continent explored, iterations of those anthropological studies fortify his works further to cast bold socio political statements that resonate instantaneously.

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Barthélemy Toguo: Urban Requiem Related Press Barthélemy Toguo: Urban Requiem 1 May 2019, The Brooklyn Rail

It started with a passport. For artist Barthélemy Toguo, movement through the world was tethered to the small book he was required to carry when he traveled, within which his progress could be tracked at every border he tried to cross.

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Dangerous Art: A Stark But Inspiring New Exhibit Related Press Dangerous Art: A Stark But Inspiring New Exhibit 6 April 2019, npr

A rickety-looking wooden boat is piled high with overstuffed bags covered in colorfully patterned African fabrics. Hanging overboard: a collection of plastic teapot-shaped pots and gasoline cans. Instead of floating on water, this ark is adrift on an ocean of green glass bottles. The boat is actually a piece of art called Road to Exile, by the...

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Barthélémy Toguo's Exhibition Explores the Push & Pull of the Global Migration Crisis Related Press Barthélémy Toguo's Exhibition Explores the Push & Pull of the Global Migration Crisis 10 September 2018, okayafrica.

In the last year, stories about the global migration crisis have been at the forefront of our news feeds and especially in the work of Cameroonian artist, Barthélémy Toguo. In his exhibition, showing at the Parrish Art Museum until October 14, Toguo addresses the migrant and refugee crisis; specifically, the desire of young Africans to escape in...

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