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Exhibition "Before Looking at this Work, Listen to It" at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury - Abidjan 2018 © Ouattara Watts

Galerie Cécile Fakhoury is pleased to present Before Looking at this Work, Listen to It, Ouattara Watts’ first exhibition at the gallery and in Ivory Coast, his native country.

”My vision is not bound to a country or a continent; it extends beyond borders and all that can be found on a map. While I use identifiable pictorial elements to be better understood, this project is nevertheless about something much wider. I am painting the Cosmos.” Ouattara Watts

Through vibrant colors, dynamic shapes, and hypnotic signs and symbols, Ouattara Watts explores the spiritual bonds that transcend geography and nationality. By merging found objects, photographs, and raw materials, Watts’ paintings invoke the artist’s multicultural identity and offer various levels of readings, socially and historically. With lyricism and wit, Watts conjures imaginary worlds and magical visions, both urban and ancestral, to contemplate the metaphysical relationships between beings.

Born in 1957 in Abidjan, Ouattara Watts left Ivory Coast in the early 1990s to settle to the United States. He has been living in New York for thirty years and is now an American citizen. Before Looking At this Work, Listen to It at Galerie Cécile Fakhoury – Abidjan is his first solo show in Ivory Coast and symbolises the artist’s return to his home country. Since the beginning of his career, Ouattara Watts has exhibited in prominent exhibitions namely Afriques Capitales in Paris, Documenta 11 in Kassel, Body of Evidence at the National Museum of African Art, at the Smithsonian Institute of Washington and in The Short Century : Independence and Liberation Movement in Africa,1945-1994 at MoMa PS1 in New York. His works were also presented in the frame of the Whitney Biennial in New York and the Venice Biennale in Italy.

”In his paintings, [Ouattara Watts] materialises a vision of the world that abolishes categories, boundaries and demarcations and that materialises a way of being to the world that connects the Individual to the Universal. Slowly, in a gesture constantly repeated, Ouattara unrolls the thread that guides and directs all his production: this thread that braids together ancestral traditions and modern and contemporary traditions. […] Like Shango the master of the fire, Ouattara forges totems and masks that veil and unveil, he passes from the African statuary to the flatness of the painting, composes polyphonies of sonorous and coloured tones and brings out the spirits of the old and modern worlds. Through his alliances, his variations, his explosions of colours, symbols, pictograms, figures and sounds, the painter, a real go-between, connects heterogeneous universes to better mark the universal dimension. As an echo to Barnett Newman affirming The Sublime is now, in all his large formats, Ouattara merges the opposites, organises the balance of extremes, harmonises the chaos of the world. And affirms the cosmic unity.” – Extract from the text Ouattara: Master of Fire by Gaya Golcymer