Barthélémy Toguo focuses his multimedia practice on notions of exile, identity, and displacement. The monumental work on paper presented here is a banner-like frieze that offers up a nightmarish vision of the wars in Africa. Although Toguo works fluidly in several mediums, he often turns to watercolor to explore issues such as death, pain, beauty, and the cycle of life. Toguo made Dynastie in Benin in 2012 for the Biennale Benin (‘Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen’). It was exhibited at the Royal Palace of Abomey which consists of 12 palaces spread out in the former capital of the West African Kingdom of Dahomey. Toguo took direct inspiration from the traditional iconography on the palace’s walls.
Barthélémy Toguo (born 1967 in M’Balmayo, Cameroon) articulates his work around the notion of belonging, a focus that stems from his dual French/Cameroonian nationality. Through poetic, hopeful, and often figural gestures connecting nature with the human body, Toguo foregrounds concerns with both ecological and societal implications. Recently, his works have been informed by movements such as #BlackLivesMatter or the humanitarian crisis of refugees throughout the world. He states: ‘What guides me is a constantly evolving aesthetic but also a sense of ethics, which makes a difference, and structures my entire approach.’ He lives and works in Paris and Bandjoun, Cameroon.
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