Barthélémy Toguo was born in Mbalmayo in Cameroon in 1967. Between 1989 and 1993 he studied art, first at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Abidjan then in Grenoble, and finally at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf where notable encounters included Tony Cragg, Jannis Kounellis and Konrad Klapheck. Although he stayed in Europe and became a French citizen, Barthélémy Toguo remained profoundly attached to Cameroon, and he regularly returns to the country. That is where he created Bandjoun Station, a foundation inaugurated in 2013 with the aim of hosting artists and academics from around the world in residential workshops, to develop propositions in harmony with the local population. This is how he talks about it: “My idea with Bandjoun Station was to combine classic African art and global contemporary art, to exhibit these works in the same space, without ghettoization or a hierarchy of values. […]That way Bandjoun Station will become a crossroads, a point of contact between classic and contemporary art.” This “laboratory without borders” exhibits a permanent collection of contemporary works gathered by the artist thanks to exchanges with his peers and collectors. He also develops agricultural projects there, in a spirit of healthy and sustainable development.
A veritable globetrotter, Barthélémy Toguo has acquired an international reputation. Since the end of the 1990s, his works have been noticed by many critics and curators who have invited him to participate in major events: Hans Ulrich Obrist in 1999 for Migrateurs (ARC, Paris), Jean-Hubert Martin in 2000 for Partage d’éxotismes (Biennale de Lyon), Pierre Restany in 2001 for Political Ecology (White Box, New York), and Okwui Enwezor in 2015 for the Venice Biennal, All the World’s Future. In 2016, Barthélémy Toguo was one of four artists nominated for the Prix Marcel Duchamp and for this occasion he presented the installation Vaincre le virus! at the Centre Pompidou from October 2016 to February 2017. Created in collaboration with researchers at the Institut Pasteur based on the observation of stem cells infected with the AIDS and Ebola viruses, this installation links art and science. It consists of wall-mounted paintings, monumental ceramic vases and 3D models of infected cells.
The works of Barthélémy Toguo are exhibited in many collections including those of the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Paris), the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (Paris), the Museum of Modern Art (New-York), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Miami), the Perez Art Museum (Miami), the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la creation (Paris), the Collection Agnès b (Paris), and Bandjoun Station (Bandjoun).