L'imparfait et l'impératif

Nú Barreto

Galerie Nathalie Obadia is delighted to present Nú Barreto’s third exhibition, after Homo Imparfaits in 2019 in Brussels. Born in 1966, in São Domingo, in Guinea-Bissau, Nú Barreto has lived and worked in Paris since 1989. After trying his hand at photography, he soon turned to drawing as his medium of choice. His reflections on contemporary Africa are also expressed in powerful mural installations. Selected to represent his country at the World Exposition in Lisbon, in 1998, Nú Barreto now enjoys an international career and incarnates a notable figure of contemporary African art. The exhibition L’imparfait et l’impératif presents a group of new works on recycled paper, which are part drawing part collage, and a 42-drawing polyptych conceived as a sort of logbook for these months of pandemic. A striking demonstration of graphic eloquence put to the service of a bitter vision of reality, these works illustrate the suffering of the African people and the human condition, via the theme of confinement. Under the artist’s sharp and lively draftsmanship, life is seen as a high-risk exercise. When he thinks of his native country, a former Portuguese colony, Nú Barreto recalls the grueling march toward independence, followed by political and military instability punctuated by numerous coups. Today, the artist looks at the current situation in Guinea-Bissau with lucidity and acerbity. He sees the ever growing socio-economic disparities. More broadly, what shines, figuratively through his work, in the form of his ‘homos imparfaits,’ is the complexity of the issues that determine relations between the different African states and the Western world.