"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."
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.
"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
Image: Africa United, 2018