Manuel Mathieu and Sebastien Jean Shake Up ParisFriday, December 28th, 2012 Categories: Features, Reviews, Updates
Jean Luc Clergue, Sebastien Morel, and Orlinda Lavergne are definitely on to something. These three private Haitian art collectors and subsequent founders of Agwe Galerie (Colmar, France; 2010), in collaboration with the Embassy of Haiti in France and the Musee du Montparnasse, recently launched an exhibition titled Haiti: Radical and Contemporary showcasing Haitian-born artists Sebastien Jean and Manuel Mathieu.
The exhibition opened to the French public on Dec 20th 2012 at the Musee du Montparnesse, located in the museum’s self-titled, historical art district of Paris, and was received by a mass crowd of historians, journalists, professors, curators, gallery owners, fellow artists, and art enthusiasts who expressed a genuine interest in and intrigue towards the artistic practices emanating out of the Caribbean, and Haiti in particular.
With the scenography orchestrated by Mario Benjamin, one of Haiti’s leading contemporary artists, the space honoured these two up and coming artists’ strengths and individual artistic concerns, while concurrently inviting the viewer into a conjoined world that exceeds the voodoo traditions that are typically associated with Haiti.
Self-taught artist, Sebastien Jean, finds inspiration in his roots and from way of life in Haiti—“the mingling cries, happiness, misery and joy”—before transforming his emotions and perceptions into large, abstract, and highly sexualized forms in rich, dark and metalized colours. Faintly etched into some of his canvasses are passages that give further insight into this 32 year olds mind, but the artist confesses that it is his use of “black charcoal and dust which gives life to his works.”
While Manuel Mathieu presents figures that are comparably exaggerated and colossal in size, his approach and paintings are less rudimentary. With a BA in Visual Art and Media from UQAM in Montreal, Manuel demonstrates a remarkable sensibility towards the human condition: “I share emotions from pieces of my thoughts. The former do not define me. They come from this mutual space in which we are all connected.” His interpermeation is then combined with and enhanced by a more modern and refined concern for space, depth, colour, and ambiance.
During an era of cultural heterogeneousness and the globalization of art, both Manuel Mathieu and Sebastien Jean position themselves as contemporary and universal. What the people behind the Agwe Galerie have caught on to and aim to spotlight is that Haitian art reveals a fascinating facet of otherness that the rest of the world both empathizes with and increasingly craves. In addition to Manuel and Sebastien’s international exposure in recent years, another testimony to this is the Haiti art exhibit being held at France’s prestigious Grand Palais in 2014.
Should the New Year incidentally lead you to Paris, Haiti: Radical and Contemporary runs until January 13th 2013 and is well worth your time.