fbpx Biennale Arte 2022 | Frantz Zéphirin
La Biennale di Venezia

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Frantz Zéphirin

1968, Haiti

  • TUE - SUN
    23/04 > 25/09
    11 am - 7 pm

    FRI - SAT UNTIL 25/09
    11 am - 8 pm

    TUE - SUN
    27/09 > 27/11
    10 am - 6 pm
  • Arsenale
  • Admission with ticket

Frantz Zéphirin’s artistic career began when he was a boy, selling his paintings of colonial homes that line Cap-Haïtien’s coast. His customers were tourists passing through the port town on cruise ships. By his teens he was exhibiting in local galleries, and he quickly developed a signature style that laced brilliant colours with pattern play in packed compositions. Zéphirin focused on Haiti’s landscape and its complex history of slavery, rebellion, revolution, and spiritual endurance. The Slave Ship Brooks (2007), for example, shows the ship that brought thousands of enslaved Africans to the Caribbean. The slavers are depicted as animals and the Africans as humans, forced to peer out from the dungeons of the vessel. Chained to the exterior of the ship are rebels, the forerunners of those who would lead the Haitian Revolution and end French colonial rule. Zéphirin’s work also captures the power of Haiti’s majority religion, Vodou; he is, himself, a Vodou priest and currently lives and works in a temple in the mountains outside Port-au-Prince. The canvas Les Esprits Indien en face Colonisation (2000) centres a mermaid figure, half native Taíno woman, half fish. In the distance is a Spanish vessel; the Indigenous woman holds a steadfast, forward gaze, a gesture repeated by an African man positioned in her chest. Together, they provocatively confront the viewer with moral outrage at the millions of lives lost to colonialism and genocide.

Isabella Achenbach

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Biennale Arte
Biennale Arte