Focus sur / To A. Rimbaud, Ouattara Watts: Partez à la rencontre du travail d'un artiste à travers l'analyse d'une de ses œuvres

30 April - 7 May 2020
  • This week, we invite you to discover To A. Rimbaud, a work of the Ivorian artist Ouattara Watts.

    Francis Corabœuf, director of the Gallery's showroom in Paris, offers us a personal reading of this work.



    Know more about the artist
  • Last week we started a new period under the sign of Taurus. Just as we are nailed down and look again at the sky as an impossible place to reach, it is the strongest of the earth signs that comes to anchor us a little more for a while longer. Abidjan, Dakar, Paris, suddenly we found ourselves far away from each other. What was possible yesterday is no longer possible today, at least not in the same way. In spite of this, there is an artist who still has the power to bring us closer to the sky and the stars, and that is Ouattara Watts. In his works, the painter of the Cosmos invokes an immutable, cyclical and ancestral order. The temporality of his works is not marked by the storms of our time, they invoke the past, present and future at the same time, in the same continuum.


    The painting entitled To A. Rimbaud is a door to this continuum in which are inscribed the signs that only initiated people can understand. Ouattara Watts being a painter of mystery, it is useless to look for the exact meanings of these elements. It is just necessary to appreciate the thickness of this mystery which makes the body and the consistency of the black background of this painting. The blackness of a night in which dots, stars like a constellation, come to take their place. Perhaps we will find among them Aldebaran, the red-orange eye of the Zodiac Taurus that is looking at us right now. As its name suggests, the work is dedicated to Arthur Rimbaud, the mythical teenage poet who lived the last ten years of his life in Abyssinia. In the right part of the painting, on a white pillowcase glued to the canvas, Watts writes: ETHIOPIA. Further down, one can read in dark red letters: Rimbaud. This pillowcase on which we put our head at dusk opens us to the world of sleep, dreams and nightmares, it opens to the night where everything is blurred, inverted, where anything can happen. About this double vision, the art critic Gérard Barrière wrote in 1990: "Then the eye opens. But has the eye really opened? More exactly, what does an eye open on when it opens at night? When it opens on what no eye can see? What do our eyes open on when they do not open on the visible?”.


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  • And what did Arthur Rimbaud look for when he went to Africa in 1880? Was he beginning his initiation, without knowing it, this "Journey through the night" that Watts evokes in his paintings, from which one comes out transfigured, at the end of which one is an initiate? What is a poet looking for in this African night that Europeans do not know? Still today the West projects an overflowing imagination on this territory, geographical and mental, for better or for worse. In Roberto Bolaño's Les détectives sauvages, one of my bedside books, the poet Arturo Belano leaves for Luanda with the intention of perhaps disappearing: "In Paris, people are moving away, people are getting smaller and we have time, even if we don't want to, to say goodbye to them. In Africa no, over there people talk, tell you their problems, and then a cloud of smoke engulfs them and they disappear, just like Belano disappeared that night, suddenly.”


  • Petit-Poucet rêveur, j'égrenais dans ma course / Des rimes. Mon auberge était à la Grande-Ourse. / Mes étoiles au ciel...

    Petit-Poucet rêveur, j'égrenais dans ma course / Des rimes. Mon auberge était à la Grande-Ourse. / Mes étoiles au ciel avaient un doux frou-frouhas written Rimbaud in Ma bohème [My bohemia]. Now compare the alchemy of words, and the alchemy of shapes and colors. The rhythm of the shapes makes up a melody. The dots, the circles, the stars become the notes of a celestial score, and this spot of pink paint at the bottom of the canvas implodes halfway between our retina and our cortex to become another intimate and cosmic moment of consciousness of which the painter magician has the secret. Under the sign of the Taurus our senses are heightened and it is then the perfect moment to look at Watts' work and let ourselves be intuitively guided. Taurus also asks us to take care of others and ourselves. My prayer today will then be for all of us who are far from each other, wishing to meet again as soon as possible, as soon as our world has finished its moulting, in Abidjan, Dakar, Paris, Bingerville, Bordeaux, Keur Massar, New York... and everywhere else.



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