STEVENSON CAPE TOWN presents Barthélémy Toguo’s first solo show with the gallery, featuring the artist’s iconic drawings and installations. The exhibition takes its title from an immersive installation in which small drawings are displayed atop 40 music stands.
“[I]t is a concert of ‘Célébrations’ of life with all its feelings: beauty stands alongside ugliness, pleasure amidst war, sexuality with violence, joy and death.”
The artist’s ‘theatre of the world’ embraces everything that makes up human existence; life and death live side by side and give meaning to one another.
A Cameroonian who studied in Ivory Coast, Germany and France and lives between Paris and Bandjoun, Toguo’s many experiences with border control have led him to interrogate ideas of inclusion and exclusion in his work. After being subjected to baggage checks a number of times, he devised the performance Transit, in which he checks in luggage made out of wood from Cameroon.
Similarly, for The New World Climax, first presented at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, in 2001 and included on A Sculptural Premise at Stevenson in 2013, Toguo made large wooden stamps resembling those used to stamp his passport. He then used the wooden stamps to make prints on paper, a series of which will be included on this exhibition. The literal weight of the sculptures exemplifies the heavy burden for immigrants of being in a constant state of transition. The work highlights the difficulty of travelling for people forced into exile as well as those who long for change and the experience of something beyond their own borders. Transgression of borders both physical and mental is a persistent theme in his drawings and installations.
The exhibition opens on Thursday 29 May 2014, from 6 to 8pm.
Born in 1967, Toguo trained at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Abidjan, the École Supérieure d’Art in Grenoble and the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf. Solo shows have taken place at institutions including Uppsala Art Museum, Sweden; Musée d´art contemporain de Sainte Etiennne, France; La Verrière by Hermès, Brussels, Belgium; Fundaçao Gulbenkian, Lisbon; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. His work will be exhibited at the Dakar Biennale in 2014. Recent group shows include Body Language at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2013); La Triennale: Intense Proximité, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); the 11th Havana Biennial (2012); A terrible beauty is born, 11th Biennale de Lyon, France; the 18th Sydney Biennale (2011); and Laughing in a Foreign Language, Hayward Gallery, London (2008). In 2011, Toguo was made a Knight in the Order of Arts and Literature in France. His work is in the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Musée d’art contemporain, Lyon; Fondation Louis Vuitton; and Kunstsammlungen der Stadt, Düsseldorf, among others. In 2007 Toguo founded Bandjoun Station, a centre for artistic exchange between local and international artists featuring residencies, an exhibition space, a library and plantations in the hills of Bandjoun, Cameroon.