Barcelona, 22 September (EFE) — Cameroonian artist Barthelemy Toguo showcases his artistic ideas at the Picasso Museum in an exhibition of paintings, murals, sculptures, ceramics, performances and drawings in dialogue with the work of the Malaga-based artist. and the building itself.
Director of the Picasso Museum Emmanuel Guigon emphasized this Thursday the importance of Toguo’s work on the international art scene, “a guest at biennials and major institutions around the world, and in Cameroon he created a unique setting, Banjun Station, an art center, an artists’ residence and an ecological agricultural project simultaneously”.
Since the late 1990s, his work has attracted the attention of numerous critics and curators who invite him to major exhibitions, and in 2016 he was one of four artists nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize, for which he presented the installation “Vaincre le virus”. !” (Defeat the virus!) at the Center Pompidou in Paris.
The artist admitted today that when he thought about the dialogue that contemporary artists have with African art, the first thing that came to his mind was Picasso.
In his work, in constant metamorphosis, Toguo turns to themes that are also found in the work of Picasso, and it is no coincidence that the Cameroonian thought of “Guernica” when he wrote the work “Rwanda 1994”, a work that is absent from Barcelona.
He shares with Picasso the idea that “an artist creates works not to decorate apartments, but with a strong political consciousness.”
Toguo also addresses issues that are also present in Picasso’s compositions, mainly those relating to the depiction of the human figure, non-discrimination between the sexes, hybridization and continuity between man, animal and plant.
If there is a space where both artists essentially converge, it is politics, because for Toguo, “political commitment is a great example of the responsibility an artist takes on as a political being.”
A victim of racial discrimination, the artist himself repeats this experience in many of his works, especially in the Transit series, which evokes the brutality of discrimination at the border and in exile.
As a preamble to the exhibition, some of his performances can be seen in the first room, including The Greedy Gardener, in which the artist waters a bouquet of dollars, the new odorless flowers on the market.
The plant world, and the tree in particular, make up a recurring theme in the African artist’s universe: transformed into a “tree of death” in Strange Fruit (2017), from which severed heads dangle.
The central hall of the exhibition features a work created by Toguo especially for the occasion, a large mural in which he displays his concerns: human interaction with nature, plants and animals, the joy of life, but also pain. the death that awaits us.
In this room, the dialogue with Picasso begins with the choice of blue, so often repeated by the native of Malaga, combined with red, one of Toguo’s favorite colors.
The four large jars that Toguo made especially for the exhibition recall the themes of the mural displayed in the hall, which are repeated in six round plates with a diameter of 1.50 meters from his Fragile Body series.
The most direct affinity with the Malaga artist becomes more apparent in his interpretation of Las Meninas, albeit without mimetic copying of either the Velázquez series or the Picasso series.
The exhibition concludes on the ground floor of the museum with a series of 28 drawings of Animal Comedies, a sort of collection of anthropomorphic portraits with African animal heads, all wearing masks, as it was drawn during captivity, with a wink at the drawings in Calder’s Animals and The Human Comedy » Balzac. EFE.
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