Fabienne Francotte

Frolicking in pain and paranoia, the terse faces and grimly oddities that give form to Fabienne Francotte’s ‘Still Life | Nature Morte’ is a poignant representation of the sorrow seeped in our realities. The artist draws earnest emotions from her manifold experiences across the years being with those agonized at asylums to those witnessing the struggles of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the disturbed and deranged youth of Belgium. The act of retaining a sensation in visual form that the artist places upon the human body is distinct in its ability to hold sentiment and thought. Consequently, elevating the series of works featured across ‘Still Life | Nature Morte’ exhibiting at Saskia Fernando Gallery till the 6th of June 2022, significant for its intimate responses to the horrors of a brutal world.

“ ‘Still Life | Nature’ is about what remains from the aftermath of trauma, abuse and stigma. The human being remains the main concern but the exhibition is a physical translation of painful experiences of the people. I have been working on this subject for more than three years including some writings during the many lockdowns, exploring the complexity of pain”, shared Fabienne.  She further stated that this exhibition goes beyond classical language boundaries containing discomforting imagery that people often relate to emotionally, but question at glance.  She stated “ ‘Still Life | Nature Morte’ is not an explanation, but a sensation - exploring invisible wounds, hidden trauma and power structures through portraits, fabric drapes, embroidered lips including drawings of fragmented bodies and anatomical sculptures thereby inviting the viewer to be human in adehumanised world.

A series of fabric shaped in rectangular wall hangings titled ‘The Curtains’ bring to light narratives of sheer agony, represented in written form, texture and use of color. The dramatic effect of these fabric impress upon the viewer the need to face and deal with uncomfortable emotions our communities are faced with. The idiosyncratic fashion of the artist’s visual statement stand strong in its ability to confront, while in contrast, the showcasing of bone sculptures, titled ‘Bones Don't Lie’, boldly signifiy the strength & stamina of the human body and spirit. In conversation Fabienne stated “I love my bones, all of them. Each kneecap embodies an individual story, even if they stand for collective suffering. I relished shaping this series of 25 sculptures made of clay as they fuelled my mind and challenged my inertia.  For these very reasons, I look forward to conducting six workshops during the course of the exhibition in shaping other bones.  The idea is to use our human potential to create something powerful.”

Belgium-born artist, Fabienne Francotte first began her journey through the practice of calligraphy. “I was fascinated by notebooks and inks and pen. When I was forty, I decided to write my own stories. You just need one stroke or line to tell something and I think it emerged in the drawings I made afterwards”, she explained. Fabienne’s ability to tell a story through her art becomes her purpose to showcase her work, to allow a space for others to explore and discover through her experiences, and those of others.

Fabienne’s journey has been documented in ARTRA Magazine E41 (2019) exploring her contrast of colorthrough depictions of her interactions with Pettah merchants and those in the community. ARTRA Magazine E43 (2019) features Fabienne’s work on the cover, capturing the depths of loss, trauma and empathy witnessed 
and suffered during the Easter attacks in 2019. 
Her works were those of consolation but also a depiction of the agonizing consequences and after effects of loss. Fabienne’s works deal with subjects that surpass media reports and news declarations in bringing to light the many inflictions and emotions faced by those confronting violence. Her works encapsulate compelling testaments of the consequences of tragic human violations.

Recounting trauma is a part of the healing and recovery process. It allows one to face the pain and paranoia while placing those experiences in context. Artists scrutinize trauma and memory as means to psychologically deal with the experience. Thus one may question if viewers can find meaning through the process of interpreting works of art? To this question, we found Fabienne’s work positively aiding the healing process of meaning making while also revealing the psyche of those affected by abuse and agony. Fabienne’s subjects are anonymous, seen but not defined. It is as if the artist attempts to convey to the viewer that in the face of inhumanity and bloodshed, we are one, facing consequences together.

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19th May, 2022 Visual Art | Paintings