As a Montrealer in a Quebec that is increasingly more concerned about climate change, I centre my artistic approach on themes relating to global warming and ecological disasters, including the social and environmental impacts they have. As a dedicated recycler, I create works from discarded materials and objects.
I feel like a citizen of the world. I grew up in North Africa, studied in New York and Washington and now live in Montreal. With a fine arts degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology of New York, I returned to Haiti in the 1980s, then emigrated to Canada as a political refugee in 1991. This peripatetic lifestyle is reflected in my paintings, which often incorporate the theme of dislocation. For me, art reflects a cross-cultural identity informed by the convergence of three societies: my native, Haiti; my childhood land, Morocco; and my adopted home, Canada. As a Haitian-Canadian artist who emigrated, as a political refugee, from Port-au-Prince to Montreal in 1991, I was greatly interested by the ONE FOR ALL Awards initiative and its theme of hope. I created the painting Dark Blue Hope from banana and bark leaves, this was to embrace the use of basic and organic materials from the tropics. The composition of the painting is divided into two parts: three-quarters of the surface on the right-hand side illustrates death and displacement, while the quarter of the left-hand side portrays light and hope.
In my painting ‘Dark Blue Faith’, the two figures depicted on the right of the work move slowly out of the composition. The man with a pale, expressionless face, wearing a pair of round glasses, symbolises dark, destructive forces. He seems to be making advances on the elegant woman. The woman is moving slowly and sadly, yet with dignity, all while facing a probable death or rape. These two figures symbolise the uprooting, the wandering, and the forced displacement of war refugees, who, for reasons beyond their control, are chased out of their homes and are forced to go out into the world as paupers, often over prolonged periods of time in inhumane and atrocious conditions. I they reach a camp or a safe haven, they have to ease all of their traumas and cope with the aftermath of the horror that they have endured. Finally, they must defy all odds and rebuild their lost hope and faith in humanity.
At the centre of the painting appears a man, draped in a white shroud, with a small white cross which hangs from straps around his body. This character symbolises death, the death of an individual, of a region, of the fundamental values of respect and dignity. He is depicted rising vertically, he therefore marks a transition leading from one dimension to another, a dimension of resurrection and rebuilding.
The quarter left composition of the painting represents the hope that each of us carries within ourselves and which unites us in our collective humanity. A bright, proud and slim figure portraying the old sage brings forth faith and rebuilding. He stands straight and luminous, raising humanity above its destructive madness and horror. Like the child soldier, Emmanuel Jal, the old sage sings of hope. Fulfilling his duty of lucid optimism, he pursues his quest for knowledge, education, wisdom and the love for humankind, to overcome the rampant forces of obscurantism. A new day dawns…And it is up to us, as creators, to share our dreams which are defined by hope and the ideal world.