Francks Francois Décéus continues to emerge as one of the important Haitian painters of his generation. Born in Haiti, Décéus and his family moved to Brooklyn, New York when he was nine years old. It wasn’t until he graduated from Long Island University with a degree in Sociology that he turned to making art as a career.
Throughout his artist career, Décéus work has marched chronologically from his childhood in Haiti, through his immersion into his new urban community as an immigrant, and recently, to his meditations on a conceptual vision of humanity. He has always been more interested in exploring themes and issues than in making definitive statements or creating a visual language with his art, and his work resonates with political and sociological content.
Stylistically his work incorporates many of the influences and aesthetic forms of artists like Norman Lowis and Howarddena Pindell , and reverberates with some of the artistic strains of his native Haiti. His modernist style combines figurative, abstract and layered elements and relies heavily on a simplification of form and function. His work is characterized by a semiotic economy, minimalist use of imagery and a deliberately limited palette range within series of work.
Francks Décéus was profiled in a 1998 issue of the International Review of African American Art as “one of the leading young modern painters of his generation, whose work depicts a high degree of sensitivity to social issues and his culture”. He is currently featured in “100 New York Painters”, an extensive survey of significant New York painters and their widely diverse works.
In 2004, Décéus was selected by curators at the Brooklyn Museum to participate in the exhibition “Open House: Working in Brooklyn”, an exhibition considered to be the largest survey ever devoted to contemporary Brooklyn -based artists. His work has been commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. His work is in the permanent collection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Xavier University.
Décéus has studied printmaking at the venerated Bob Blackburn Printmaking workshop and in June of 2007 completed on a month-long printmaking residency in Gentilly, France. He was the recipient, in February 2008, of the Samella Lewis Award for Painting in the Hampton University Museum’s juried exhibition, “New Power Generation 2008”.
“As a Haitian immigrant or “refugee”, as I was sometimes referred to while growing up in Brooklyn during the 1980s, it was difficult to maintain explicit social and cultural ties to more than one place at a time. This created a constant struggle with identity and acceptance.
This body of work is an attempt to dig deeper into the construct of my identity, juxtaposed with an African-American context, in the backdrop of a Black Lives Matter timeframe.
Moreover, despite my Haitian nationality, I am often confronted and subjugated to harsh scrutiny, solely based on complexion. Too often, projection is replaced by perception and we are quickly labeled as other, in a way that polarizes our image while marginalizing its core value.
I am also interested in how commonplace objects can be re-loaded simply based on where those objects are placed.
In my current works, it’s interesting how the placing of a construction cone or a fire hose can create such an immediate reaction from the viewer, and how hysteria has become a new norm when confronting and interacting with minority population. The male figure warped in a fire hose, being purple in random direction, is deliberately ouster and playful in equal measures. Hence the title “Mumbo Jumbo”, inspired by Ishmael Reed’s book under the same title, where he attempted to capsulate the complexities of the African-American experience.
My objective is to create a platform for meaningful discourse in hopes of fostering a state of collectivity.” – Francks F. Décéus