Born in 1957 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Ouattara Watts understood from childhood that he wanted to become a painter when, fascinated by music, dances and masks rituals surrounding the religion poro, to which he was initiated by a loved one, he discovers what he calls "painting in motion".
“I paints with brushes, but also with my hand, I flatten my two bare hands, I like this contact with matter, painting, and I go with my body, by circular movements borrowed from Sudanese architecture by the time when clay mixed with shea butter allowed houses to stand for several generations.”
In 1988, he met Jean-Michel Basquiat. A friendly thunderbolt immediately binds the two men. On the advice and with the help of Basquiat, Ouattara Watts left France to settle in New York, where he has been living and working for 30 years now. The two painters exchanged a lot, travelled together to New Orleans, and had planned a stay in Korhogo but, following the early passing of his friend, Ouattara Watts decides to make a name and a place with the strength of his own talent.
Before the cultural season "Africa 2020" and following the great retrospective devoted to Jean-Michel Basquiat by the Louis Vuitton Foundation, Espace Paul Rebeyrolle welcomes the work of Ouattara Watts. The exhibition, conceived both as a retrospective panorama, an initiatory journey and an explosion of sounds and colors at the height of the energy and generosity of the painting of Ouattara Watts, presents nearly twenty paintings, sometimes monumental, as well as a set of works on paper.
Drawing on its origins and cosmopolitan experiences, the artist has developed in recent decades a practice intimately mixing music and painting, composing his works on the basis of a spirituality inherited from magic rituals and an animist philosophy linking man and nature. His paintings weave and tirelessly blend African traditions, Western modern and contemporary art, the influence of the greatest painters and the most brilliant composers of the century. His painting reminds us that the artistic genius is timeless and knows no borders: it is a happy antidote against the reactionary drifts and the folds of identity that sadly make international reality.
The exhibition at Espace Paul Rebeyrolle will be followed with an exhibition at Russo Yubero in November 2019.