By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
The walls of Gallery 1957 provide an imperturbable sense of belonging – indeed the burgundy coloured walls offer a true feeling of intimacy that border on a boudoir – as one gets encircled with artworks by the Haitian American artist Florine Demosthene.
Located within the premises of the elegant Kempinski Hotel in Accra, the atmosphere is one of both familiarity and interference as one moves from one artwork to the other, some of which are decorated with elaborate frames.
A close scan of the walls show Demosthene as a masterful technician – who employs a penetrating fusion of figurative and abstract forms to examine diverse issues that confront the contemporary world – while engaging her own profile as a reference point.
Titled, “The Stories I Tell Myself”, the mixed media works are conceptual and does not illuminate one meticulous notion, event or history. “For me, my art has been a passing away of layers of preconceived ideas; much in the way as a snake sheds its skin. This slow shedding process can be viewed as a continual rebirth of our identity”, she explains.
Indeed, it is an unrestricted body of work that actually enjoins the viewer to conceive and communicate his or her own ideas. Consequently – the works, some of which are uncanny – attract a flurry of concepts including femininity, race, sensuality, heroines and gender issues.
With images that seem to be hovering in the universe, she effectively re-appraises socio-political constructions and circumstances that currently encircle female sexuality and physicality as her delicate figures tend to initiate a kind of dialogue around female bodies.
Demosthene earned a BFA the Parsons New School for Design and an MFA from Hunter College (both in the United States). She has shown her work extensively in group and solo exhibitions in the Caribbean, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Germany, the United States and several parts of Africa.
She was a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2011 and was featured in the premiere issue of “Arc”, a magazine that is dedicated to highlighting emerging and established Caribbean artists.
The artist is also a 2012 Keyholder resident at the Lower East Side Printshop in New York (USA), a Guest Artist for the 2014 Dakar Art Biennale and a participant in the first Kampala Art Biennale in Uganda.
The exhibition ends on Sunday May 6.