Working across painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, performance, and installation, Barthélémy Toguo addresses enduring and immediately relevant issues of borders, exile, and displacement. At the core of his practice is the notion of belonging, which 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 and humanitarian tragedy including #BlackLivesMatter and the refugee crisis. 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.”
In 2008, he founded Bandjoun Station in his native Cameroon to foster contemporary art and culture within the local community. The community center includes an exhibition space, a library, an artist residency, and an organic farm. Toguo has participated in numerous international biennials, including the Sydney Biennale (2011, 2022); Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India (2018); Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale (2018); 56th Venice Biennale (2015); Havana Biennial (2012); 11th Biennale de Lyon (2011); and Dakar Biennale (2000, 2010, 2016, 2018, 2022).
In 2022, Toguo was commissioned for a monumental site-specific installation The Pillar of Missing Migrants (2022) under the Louvre Museum's pyramid in Paris, France. In 2021, Toguo was appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace and in 2016, he was shortlisted for the Prix Marcel Duchamp. The artist presented the installation Vaincre le virus! at the Centre Pompidou, Paris the same year. Solo museum exhibitions have been held at the Museu Picasso de Barcelona, Spain; Savannah College of Art and Design Museum of Art, Georgia; Centre d’art La Malmaison, Cannes, France; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, France; Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France. His works are included in public collections worldwide, including the Tate Modern, England; Centre Pompidou, France; Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon, France; Studio Museum Harlem, New York; and MoMA, New York. In 2011, Toguo was made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Literature in France, and in 2023 was elevated to Officer.
Toguo was born in M’Balmayo, Cameroon, in 1967. He currently lives and works between Paris, France and Bandjoun, Cameroon.