Nú Barreto Guinea-Bissau, b. 1966

Barreto is a multidisciplinary artist whose political practice depicts his own experience of contemporary Africa and the violence and inequality that marks the continent. Barreto has developed his own symbolic system of color and recurring motifs. His canvas paintings are populated by silhouetted anonymous figures flailing against abstracted compositions surrounded by broken ladders to nowhere and signifiers of urban life. Thin wavering “lifelines” dissect his compositions, representing an existence that is precarious yet persistent.


Born in 1966 in São Domingos, Guinea-Bissau, Barreto has been living and working in Paris since 1989, graduating from the École Nationale des Métiers de l'Image des Gobelins (Paris, France). In 1998, he represented his country at the Lisbon World Fair (Portugal). His work has since then received international exposure, and Barreto has established himself as one of the most prominent artists of African contemporary art.


Barreto’s work has been celebrated in many solo and group shows including at the Centre culturel de l'Escale in Levallois-Perret (France), the Sabine Knust gallery in Munich (Germany) where he exhibited alongside William Kentridge, El Anatsui and Isaac Julien, the Hommage à la Biennale d'Art contemporain Africain de Dakar in Martigny (Switzerland), and at the headquarters of the West African Economic and Monetary Union in Ouagadougou (Burkina-Faso). Between 2015 and 2018 Barreto participated in the touring exhibition Lumières d'Afrique, which traveled to the Palais de Chaillot in Paris (France), the Donwahi Foundation in Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire), the IFAN Museum in Dakar (Senegal), the Palace of Nations in Geneva (Switzerland), the African Union of Addis-Abeba (Ethiopia) and at the EUMETSAT in Darmstadt (Germany).


In 2015, the artist enjoyed his first solo show in China at the Taipa House Museum of Macao (China) and took part in Rastros at the Capixaba do Negro Museum (MUCANE) in Vitória (Brazil). Prior exhibitions include at the Boribana Museum of Dakar (Senegal), the Arpád Szenes and Viera da Silva Foundation in Lisbon (Portugal) on the occasion of Fundação PLMJ, 100 obras - 10 años, the Latin American Foundation of São Paulo (Brazil), the Biennale of São Paulo (Brazil), the Cité des sciences et de l'industrie de la Villette for the exhibition Quand l'Afrique s'éveillera in Paris (France). In 2006, he took part in the famous Biennial of Contemporary African Art of Dakar (Senegal), as well as in Afrique Europe - rêves croisés, an exhibition organized by the EU Commission at Les Ateliers des Tanneurs in Brussels (Belgium).


Barreto's works are featured in major public collections such as the Musée Capixaba do Negro Museum (MUCANE) in Vitória (Brazil), the Pro-Justitiae Foundation in Porto, and the Arpád Szenes and Viera da Silva Foundation in Lisbon (Portugal), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) in Ouagadougou  (Burkina-Faso), as well as the Taipa House Museum of Macao (China).