Colombelles, Normandy

Robert, 77 years old, worked at the steelworks before the plant closed in 1993.
He wanted me to paint the word “Fusion” which refers to the steelworks and to the comming together of different communities of workers : the Polish, the Italians, the North Africans and the locals. They even came together with football forming their own club. It was very moving for me to see what kind of impact the steel plant had on the community, and I can’t imagine how they all felt in 1993 when the plant moved to Handan, China.
This one is for Robert, my friend Salah and all the other workers of the SMN in Colombelles.

 

Thank you to Pascale for organising the Micro-Folie event! Thank you to Rick, Clara, Erwan and the team at Le Wip for these few days of painting in a great atmosphere!
Photo by Spag Bertin

Koda’s Patience

Patience-koda-toile

Koda’s patience.
The word “patience” was given to me just once on Share The Word Project. It was chosen by Koda La Cadette in the slum of Kombo in Niger.

This year more than ever, I’m trying to be as patient as possible, working on canvases and other projects before I can return to painting in slums and refugee camps. Hope you like this one!

Acrylic on a 60x60cm canvas. Contact me for sales.

A conversation we must have

George Floyd’s murder recorded on camera seems to have exposed the brutality of racism to the world. I, like – almost – everyone, found the pictures absolutely horrifying and scandalous and I deeply hope that justice will be served. I see that everyone’s suddenly concerned and posting hashtags all over the place while this is still a trending topic.

I’m glad we’re having this conversation, but we need to go further. This isn’t just about police brutality, this isn’t just a USA problem either. This is about racism that is so deeply embedded in our world that it makes change extremely difficult. If we were to change things, we’d have to be willing to go to the root of this immense problem.

This form of racism comes straight out of colonialism and slavery. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries business-driven Europeans and dodgy scientists conveniently defined Africans as barbaric and inferior in order to justify enslaving them. Books were written and cartoons were drawn, making it official in people’s minds that melanined humans were lesser humans. We need to study and understand this in order to dismantle racism. This racism was designed to be profitable.

Then we need to understand where we stand today. And from my experiences in Africa, I don’t believe the colonial times are over. Colonialism has muted, it has soften its edges, but it’s still going very strong, driven by the same greed, and profiting the same western elite than centuries ago.

Niger’s uranium, Burkina Faso’s gold, Cameroon’s petrol, the Congo’s diamonds profit the same elite, while the Africans extracting those resources are paid just about enough to be kept alive. These modern slaves are no longer fed directly by their owners, they are given a tiny amount of money to buy food, giving an illusion of freedom. European powers no longer rule Africa officially, they now pick the heads of states of a number of countries who organise elections giving an illusion of democracy.

After centuries of domination and exploitation, the African continent, although wealthy in its soil and in its cultures, is the poorest economically. Its people and their troubles are largely ignored. No one sees the Africans dying in European-owned gold mines; no one sees the chaos going on in the Congo, profiting North American and European companies; no one realises the absurdity of the borders drawn by European leaders at the Berlin Conference in 1885, and the impact these borders have had.

It seems that no one sees or cares about what goes on in Africa, but since we care more about what goes on in the USA, we saw George Floyd’s death, the tip of a gigantic iceberg. Today, in post-slavery America, the absurd hierarchy based on the complexion of people’s skin remains. Slavery leaves scars for generations, both on how these populations are perceived by the rest of society, and on the opportunities given to the Afro-American population itself. The daughter or son of a freed slave hardly stands a chance of receiving top education, making it very hard to compete for positions of power with the rest of the population. Through segregation, and today through the social structure of the USA, Afro-Americans are on average economically poorer than the European-Americans. And on the whole, an Afro-American life is viewed as less valuable.

This form of racism which can make a US cop treat an Afro-American in such a way was born with colonialism and slavery, and I believe the first major step to dismantle racism is to end neo-colonialism, and to abolish slavery. But this time for real.

Farah

This painting is available on Urban Signature Paris ‘s website. I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be working with Paris-based gallery Urban Signature! You’ll find some of my work on their website and in their parisian showroom. I’ve turned down a few galleries these last couple of years, prefering to wait until I found the right people! So stay tuned!

The word painted here is فرحة / Farah (happiness in Arabic). It’s a word I painted on my second trip to Balata Refugee Camp in Palestine last September. The word was chosen by Yara. ( أختي يارا)

Farah-toile2020

Colores para Petare

Launching ColoresParaPetare !
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Along with Venezuelan artist Dagor we have put together a colouring book to raise money for inhabitants of Petare in Caracas, the largest slum in South America.
Download the colouring book and make a donation of the amount you want.

The coronavirus lockdown and this new economic crisis is effecting an already extremely vulnerable Venezuelan population.
In Petare, South America’s largest slum, staying at home means getting no source of income, and therefore no food.

The money will go towards both printing colouring books for the children of San Blas a sector of Petare, and buying food for the families. No one can create art on an empty stomach.

https://www.leetchi.com/c/colores-para-petare-56ae8aqw

Thank you!

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