Sebastien Jean Born on March 17, 1980 in Thomassin (Haïti), Jean Sébastien lives and works in Haïti. In 2000, a visit to the exhibition of the artist Barbara Prézeau Stephenson gives birth to a new asthetic step in Sébastien’s work (…) « My work is inspired by crafts, particularly in the choice of the medium, sawdust, coffee grounds, sand. 2006 is an outstanding year ; his studio is destroyed by fire. Sébastien rescues from the fire what he is can, works it again, transfigures it and shows it at the Art Center of Jacmel. Then, with the support and the help of Mario Benjamin he shows his work at the French Institute of Port au Prince. The exhibition is a real success, his paintings where the black of the smoke mingles with colours are questionning and he gains the attention and the support of the Monnin Gallery in Petionville. In November 2010 he takes part in the exhibition « Caribbean Vibrations » at the Montparnasse Museum, then, some weeks later he is invited by the Egregore Gallery in Marmande where he shows his paintings and sculptures. From then on, his work becomes international. In April 2011, he takes part in a collective exhibition « Haïti Realm of this world », a tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Edouard Glissant, showed in Paris by the Agnès b Foundation , then at the 54th Biennial event of Venice and finally in Miami. He also was in artistic residence at the Vieux Château.
As if to sound out two words
As if he wanted to sound out two words, horror and disgust dear to his island, at first sight, Sébastien Jean gets involved in the singular bestiary of Haïti. That’s not new in itself. But what is striking nevertheless is that the painter opens up at the same time the inner side and the outer side of his figurative pieces. Indeed, if he is still attached to the shape, yet, he characterizes his bestiary a bit more, since, according to me, it is better to be attached to the inner part, enabling the autopsy, or better the semiology spreading the spontaneous signs of the thousand-year-old cultures that are part of all the Caribbean Islands.
In fact, when you look carefully at the lines which sustain the outer side, you can guess a flying-buttress here, a fasciculated column elsewhere, sometimes a diagonal in the middle of an archway of the outlying vocabulary of Sébastien Jean whereas such a move has just been made out we are taken back once more to the new world he means, since, if the apparently gothic I have just mentioned are part of the inner, they sudddenly bump into the spine of the container, a monster as fiercely full of obstacles as today’s societies could be.
Yet, despite the harshness of the association of the black and white, the bestiary remains soothed. One more time the phantasmagorical world of Sébastien Jean are derived from the thousand-year-old chats of tales, in which fear triggers off the promises of union, in the contemporary space of tyrannized cultures.
Alexandre Cadet-Petit, March 12, 2012, in Le Moule, FWI
Sébatien JEAN’s chimeras.
Sébatien JEAN’s chimeras. Scarlett JESUS « At moonlight, near the sea, in isolated places in the countryside, immerged in bitter reflections, you can see eveything take on yellow, imprecise, fantastic shapes.
Sébastien Jean. Untitled, 2011. Soot, tar oil, oil painting, powder.
Painter and sculptor, Sébastien JEAN is a young bolt Haïtian artist who cultivates his chimeras. Without seeking to please at any rate. Enthusiast of disturbing contemporary art, he made the choice of showing reality as he perceives it, as a visionary. Besides, he mischievously calls himself a « lunatic » to define his work that he wants to be completely free.
The work the artist did when he was in a three-month residence in LARTOCARPE in Le Moule(GUADELOUPE) is a confirmation of what he says and which is far from being naïve. Although he is a self-taught artist, Sébastien JEAN started painting in his early childhood and he could, on many occasions, confront his art with internationally known artists, in exhibitions from Miami to Paris through Marmand and lately, at the biennial of Venice.
Talking of « chimeras » to call Sébastien JEAN’s work is being completely aware of the different meanings and the ambiguity of that word. Moreover in Haïti , where the word has particular connotations, since « the chimeras » recall a very special social reality, that of armed gangs serving President ARISTIDE and terryfying the population between 2001 and 2005. A Chimera meant, in Greek mythology, a monster spitting out fire ; its body was made of elements from different animals. That word can easily apply to the hybrid beings that haunt the artist’s world. Turning his back on a rational approach of reality, Sébastien JEAN, discloses an imaginative world which is, like most of Haïtians artists’work, steeped in voodoo beliefs inherited from Africa. The work of that artist shows us his apprehension of a world he perceives as being strange, weird, subjected to all kinds of evil spells, magic spells and metamorphosis. What looks uncommon can be due only to the action of invisible forces : evil spirits, errant souls, monsters or dragons. Some titles of GOYA’s work -you inevitably think of- in the Fancies « The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters » or « Witches’ Sabbah » could easily apply to the dark world of his paintings. The beings, sometimes with claws, with hooked beaks or threatening teeths, sometimes like ghosts, look as if they were coming out from a Chaos that the painter darkens furthermore, in a symbolic way, with dusts and ashes. The artist’s style is clearly recognizable by that chiaroscuro aesthetics, by the choice of a dark palette most of the time, or by the association of black with a violent colour like fluorescent red or yellow and also by the erratic and fleeting interlace left by the brush.
Don’t those lines express the quest of an artist seeking to fix the visions inspired by an unstable world subjected to the action of supernatural forces ? An unsteady world as if split up, like some of his diptychs or triptychs. An unrestrained world that is only governed by the fancies and the fantastic convulsive movements of an unrestrained imagination.
In the same way, the sculptures - which are like installations – let fate play a large part. Using salvaged materials, they show the wastes of a society and a time. Old batteries, rusty wheels and old irons, floated wood, shoes and ropes washed up on the shore are linked with goat skulls and bones. As if by magic, the artist gives those waste a new shape and a new lease of life. But those impure beings shaped from Chaos, will also appear like weird and disturbing monsters. Like Titans or Ogres, they look as if they wanted to show the remains of their unlucky victims.
Nevertheless, all those characters, though ugly and terrifying at first sight, look quite funny. They remind us the monsters in the tales that delighted our childhood. Like tales, thanks to a biased approach, they enable us to face appalling reality. The one we live and above all the one Haïtian people live. At the same time and while confusing horror and laughter, Sébastien JEAN surreptitiously manages to do a kind of exorcism, his grotesque « chimeras » enabling him to externalize his own evil spirit, fears and obsessions. To free and -free himself from – the monster that is in each of us. Thus, beyond the reference to voodoo and the use of fantastic, Sébastien JEAN manages to create a very personal world, that is dreamlike and satirical at the same time. His work revives the sacred function art initially had, that of having secrete powers. That art, which offers little rational interpretation, acts like a magical spell.The choice of large formats contributes to emphasize the shock of the observer.
With a position similar to André Breton’s, Sébastien JEAN joins the contemporary reasoning of another artist, the Austrian Alfred KUBIN. The twilight atmosphere of the paintings of both painters shows a world which, plagued by violence, is dehumanizing itself and going back to animality and savageness. Both ask the same essential question : can art act on the tragical course of events ? Or should we consider that its function is to propose « chimeras », « the last ressources of the unhappy » to take up Rousseau’s expression.
Olivia Breleur, Maëlle Galerie director
After obtaining a DNAP (National Diploma in Visual Arts) and a DNSEP in fine arts (Superior National Diploma of Plastic Expression), Olivia Breleur decides to leave the practical side and deepen the theoretical knowledge. Sensitive to the fate of the artists she encounters, and the lack of professionals around them, she studied in Paris at the EAC, school of communication, culture and luxury, where she was awarded a master in art market.
Always passionate by the production of contemporary Caribbean artists, she was surrounded by professionals for the writing of her research project. Giovanni Joppolo, specialist in contemporary art of the Caribbean was her director and Jacques Leenhardt, Director of Studies at the EHESS (School of Superior Studies in Social Sciences) and specialist in Latin American art, was her godfather.
The eligibility criteria for an international art market. What Place for the market of artists from Martinique and Guadeloupe? This was the title of her research project which provocatively announces the analysis and highlights of the barriers to the radiance of the evoked artists. She worked between 2010 and 2012 at the Frank Elbaz art gallery in the Marais in Paris and Drawing Now, a famous Contemporary Drawing Fair that takes place in the Carreau du Temple in Paris. In October 2012, at the age of 26, she founded and now runs the Maëlle Galerie which is installed since March 2014 in the district of Belleville in the 20th arrondissement of Paris