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In his works, Ouattara Watts summons imaginary worlds and mystical visions, from ancestral to contemporary, to observe the metaphysical relationship between creatures. Vibrant colors, mysterious figures, and allusions to spiritual rites in the form of equations and cryptic symbols are apparent, and the interrelationship of these elements creates a dimension unique to Watts.

American artist Ouattara Watts (b. 1957, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Africa) lives and works in New York, US. Watts embraced art at an early age and gained an experience in spiritual schooling. He was inspired by the works of Picasso and other artists from the Modern Art movement. At the age of 19, he moved to Paris to pursue art education training at L’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

While living in Paris, Watts met Jean-Michel Basquiat at an art opening. It was Basquiat who persuaded him to move to New York to pursue his career. Both artists focused on themes which highlighted African culture, philosophy, and spirituality.

Watts spent the next several years combining elements of his African roots with Western influences. This allowed him to create his own unique artistic voice.

Influenced by West Africa's spirituality and multiculturalism, his large-scale, abstract compositions combine mediums to fuse African and Western aesthetics and explore themes of spirituality, Pan-Africanism, and modernism.

His source material is colorful and varied, from traditional fabrics and paint to cut-out photographs and digital prints. The added layers forge a sense of his multicultural identity and reflect upon an increasingly multicultural society. 

Ouattara Watts’ art has played an essential role in African American art history. He has exhibited his work in institutions worldwide.

Ouattara Watts has been exhibited at the Whitney Biennial, the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, the Venice Biennale, and MoMA. His work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, US; Smithsonian National Museum of African American Art, Washington, D.C., US; The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, US; Collection Mohammed IV, Morocco; Fondation Dapper, Paris, France; International Contemporary Art at Glen Carlou, Paarl, South Africa; and the UC Berkeley Museum of Art and Film Archive, Berkeley, California, US, among others.