On the whole show: there are 2 categories of works in the show, those collected by Longlati before and those made for the show.
For the works made for the show, I was influenced by the concept of traveling, of sea and sky, of navigating on a boat. So, there are works referring to horizon like Milles Horizon. The Portrait on the Surface tries to imagine faces seen below the surface of the water. Les Immortels is a reference to the Ship of Fools (cf. Pu Yingwei’s images). The work The Swells Within refer to the waves. In this case it is a person who has waves inside. The Clouds also refer to the sky. So, all the works refer to the concept of travel and navigation. Within this idea of travel there is also the meeting of the “other”, which I refer to in the work Speaking in Tongues. Of course, there is an existentialist streak in the works like in all my show. For example, the Source tries to find the origin of what we are. The Clouds in the Mountain is a poetic way of referring to a landscape. La Source is a reference to water, to a liquid matter, to what we are at the beginning and what feeds all lives. Apparition is also a kind of a landscape, where you get the impression that rain is falling. For me it is a more meditative work than the other. All these works are heavily influenced by my discussions with Pu Yingwei. In the works on paper, Ekur is a reference to a mountain. The Witness is a reference to cartography.
For me, sometimes the works appear before my eyes before and then I imagine the title. Sometimes it is the opposite way. When I did the ship of fools, the title came first and I knew how the title would influence the work. For A Dance on the Clouds, the title came when the work was almost finished. For The Swells Within, I started with the idea of waves and found the final title later.
In my shows, the theme of the show influences the colors used. In this show, because it is related to water, many works look very fluid, very diluted, and the colors are not as strong as in other works. For me, these colors are “broken”, they are not solid. In any case I don’t think about the show as a whole too much, it happens quite naturally.
Even though I didn’t use the theme of travel before, I have long been interested in the theme of displacement. With the Silk Road, there is the idea of sharing and discovery. With displacement, there is no concept of transaction. I come from Haiti, I studied in London and Montreal so of course the idea of my identity in the world is very present.
Water is a strong theme because I love water! I am a keen swimmer, I was a swimming instructor for 8 years and I grew up on an island. Now I am building a house and an essential thing is to have a swimming pool. Also, I find being on a boat is a very meditative experience. Water has also been present in my work before in works such as Wuji.
There are two works that stand out in this show. The first is A Dance in the Clouds where the style is very different from what I usually do. I afterwards found out that I was heavily influenced by Frank Bowling for this work. The second is Les Immortels which is huge in terms of scale and ambitious in terms of trying to tackle Chinese mythology. I think the movement in this painting is great, and the texture and the level of details is fantastic. I think that work is five years ahead in my artistic path.