Haitian artist Sébastien Jean has passed away

Our thanks to Thomas Spear for bringing the sad news to our attention.

An obituary by Emmelie Prophète for Le Nouvelliste.

Sébastien Jean has passed away. The news is as absurd as the circumstances of his death. He fell on the stairs in his house, hit his head really hard, and died instantly. The friends who rushed to his side in Soisson-la-Montagne after the accident, had no words to utter at the moment. Everything was going so well. A laughing, extravagant Sébastien, full of projects, a trip to France to go see his two boys, participate in exhibitions, try to live there again, postponed for more than a year, even as he knew that his creativity was intimately linked to his life in Haiti, to these wanderings, these meetings with friends, the Homeric disputes he had with them, their quarrels, the inevitable reconciliations.

We loved him. With a tormented love, made up of ups and downs, in a confusion made of admiration and a form of despair in the face of this being dominated by a talent which came out in big bursts, in huge spurts, engulfing everything living and inanimate to transform them into immortal substrates.

A sublime mountebank, an accomplished artist, Sébastien Jean had an incredible ability to renew himself, to never be the same while nurturing the keeping lines open that allowed him to be acknowledged by all. He was gargantuan, infinite, capable of taking risks which constantly confirmed him as a great creator.

To be an artist is to be inhabited by demons who have as much energy as you and who follow you everywhere, whom you love and fight. You love them because they carry this transformable breath indefinitely, and fight them because they are cannibals, because they want to consume the body, the spirit, that they are insatiable and that it is not easy to keep a balance. To produce and produce again is to feed these gently perverse souls, to transform them, to give to them so that they become guardians of the tormented nights of others, to satisfy the needs of the living, to put balm on the banality, the gloom, so devouring.

Sébastien knew how to do it. When his friends feared he might fall, he went back to his quests stronger, laughing loudly, his head full of ideas.

Sébastien Jean was in a productive spurt, his clothes constantly stained with paint, stains were in no way posture, even less coquetry, he was an artist at work, almost in a form of autism and he was each time annoyed when his body let go, rebelling against privations due to too long working days, trips back and forth on motorcycles in this harsh capital.

Sébastien Jean has built an eternity over the past fifteen years. This extraordinary artist guided us on confused paths, confronted us with pains that we did not always see, joys that often escaped us.

We had raised our heads each time to look at his paintings, his lamps, to listen to his speech which was much more like a murmur, hesitating, his hands mastered better than he the art of communicating, to give us back. account, once again and other times still, of this mastered aesthetic, a thousand times redefined and the time for us to lower it, Sébastien had straddled the stars, as if to invite us to keep our eyes up. After all, it will always be the finest tribute for this pure talent, this uncompromising artist.

From Indigo Art:

Self-taught painter and sculptor, encouraged by his mother, he began drawing and painting at the age of 13, mainly on bamboo stalks. In 2004, he abandoned the practice of artisanal painting to risk the artistic experience of painting on canvas. From then on, his sensitivity finds the tone. The practice of masks, costumes and sets of carnival seems to have nourished his taste for fantasy. Animated with a great potential energy and a free and active imaginary, Sébastien discovers a field of representation that allows him to express deeply his feelings, that of the anthropomorphic bestiary. Disturbing image, from which he derives maximum expressive resources. A singular universe populated by predatory monsters, birds of prey, wandering phantoms. A spectral vision of a tormented world.

Sébastien very soon found himself on the international scene: Fondation Agnès b in Paris, 54th Venice Biennale, Global Caribbean III at the Cultural Center of Miami.Consecutive stays in residence of creation in the city of the Arts in Paris and in Limoges consolidate its acquired. His sculptures are made from objects of recovery. He paints large canvases and has developed an original technique by combining smoke black with color, giving his paintings a very particular chiaroscuro . (C.Raccurt, biographical summary, quoted by Atelier Jerome)

Sebastien Jean Born on March 17, 1980 in Thomassin (Haïti), Jean Sébastien lives and works in Haïti. In 2000, a visit to the exhibition of the artist Barbara Prézeau Stephenson gives birth to a new asthetic step in Sébastien’s work (…) « My work is inspired by crafts, particularly in the choice of the medium, sawdust, coffee grounds, sand. 2006 is an outstanding year ; his studio is destroyed by fire. Sébastien rescues from the fire what he is can, works it again, transfigures it and shows it at the Art Center of Jacmel. Then, with the support and the help of Mario Benjamin he shows his work at the French Institute of Port au Prince. The exhibition is a real success, his paintings where the black of the smoke mingles with colours are questionning and he gains the attention and the support of the Monnin Gallery in Petionville. In November 2010 he takes part in the exhibition « Caribbean Vibrations » at the Montparnasse Museum, then, some weeks later he is invited by the Egregore Gallery in Marmande where he shows his paintings and sculptures. From then on, his work becomes international. In April 2011, he takes part in a collective exhibition « Haïti Realm of this world », a tribute to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Edouard Glissant, showed in Paris by the Agnès b Foundation , then at the 54th Biennial event of Venice and finally in Miami. He also was in artistic residence at the Vieux Château. (Olivia Breleur, director of Maëlle galerie)

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