Owanto is a Gabonese/French artist born in Paris, France. She was raised in Gabon and subsequently emigrated to Europe where she continued to study Philosophy, Literature and Languages at the Institut Catholique de Paris in Madrid, Spain. She currently lives and works between Africa, Europe and the United States of America.
Described as a multidisciplinary artist, Owanto produces photographic, sculptural, painting, video, installation and performative works. She explores her personal heritage, questioning her history as the daughter of a Gabonese mother and French father. Furthermore, she investigates themes relating to identity politics and transformation, sequencing images from personal archives into collages, playing with forms and colours.
Owanto’s work often addresses sensitive and somewhat taboo issues, concerning cultural and religious practices which adversely affect individuals on personal as well as social levels.
However, as Fernando Francés argues in an article published in Christian Maretti Editore (2009), “Hers is a call to the world based on life experiences, and her message is cogent and optimistic. Truth may be found at the origins of civilisation, which is why Africa, the land of her mother, has much to contribute to the construction of a world order – a contribution that is not scientific, economic or technical… but ethical. The ideas and principles which underlie Owantoʼs message are as simple as nature. Her animist convictions, and belief that family unity is a starting point for world unity, are deeply rooted in her Gabonese background.”
Notable solo exhibitions include: Flowers at Conseil National (Monaco, French Riviere: 2016); Here, Now at Dar Rhizlane Palace at the Marrakech Biennale 5 OFF (Marrakech, Kingdom of Morocco: 2014); Protect Public Art intervention at Jardins de Saint Martin (Monaco, French Riviere: 2013) and Owanto “L’Atelier de l’artiste” in collaboration with Galeria Yusto-Giner’ at Art Marbella OFF (Marbello, Spain: 2015).
Her work also features in the following prominent group shows: Beauty at Centro de Exposiciones de Benálmadena (Benálmadena, Spain: 2016); ‘DÓNDE VAMOS Performance at Off the OFF Dak’Art (Dakar, Senegal: 2014); Be Aware at Espacio Elbutrón (Seville, Spain: 2013); Arternativelight at the Musée Naval de Monaco (Monaco, French Riviere: 2011) and The Lighthouse of Memory, Go Nogé Mènè Republic of Gabon Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy: 2009).