Jason Fleurant is a young painter based in West Palm Beach, Florida but his work has the stamps of three continents: the melancholy strokes of a European painting, the bold colors of North America’s Caribbean, and the mysticism of Asian pottery. Whether done on acrylic, pastels, watercolor, each of Fleurant’s pieces are akin to narratives. In his painting “The Reflection”, a middle-aged woman stares in a mirror, not seeing her true self, but an idealized, younger version of herself. “Club 27”, another painting, juxtaposes 70s disco life with Harlem Renaissance scenes. Another painting “2 My Unborn Child”, is surreal in nature, with a divine hand protruding inside a woman’s womb.
Fleurant—who is as shy as he is gifted—discussed art, inspiration in an exclusive interview with Kreyolicious.com.
You obviously love to paint. Have you been able to trace the moment when that love first developed in you?
Sometimes I think it’s more a love/hate relationship with painting. Yes I love it with all my heart, yet at the same time I hate that it reveals so much of who I am. Lots of times when I look at the painting I’ve finished I can always recall the emotions that I had hidden, that flow into it and I wonder if people see it. I get almost a feeling of being naked.
I can definitely trace the moment I fell in love with it because I’ve only been painting for two years come January 12. It was when I did this painting called “Ludya” based off this photo I had seen of this little Haitian girl of the same name. I can even tell you the exact date (July 8, 2010) ; because it was the day LeBron James made the announcement he was going to the Miami Heat. I was watching it as I painted this piece. I was still new to using oil paint, but something about how it came out with the colors, how easy and relaxing the creative process felt, that made me truly love it. Prior to that, painting was just an outlet that became an obsession.
Any painters in particular that you admire?
I’m a big fan of Justin Bua. That man’s art is incredible. He’s so like now, like a Picasso of our generation. His style is so distinct and creative, it remarkable. I feel a real strong connection to Jean Michel- Basquiat, my favorite piece by him is “Charles The First”. Oddly enough, the way I learned who he was from a Jay-Z name check on the song “Most Kings” which was inspired by that very piece. On the bottom of the painting Basquiat wrote “Most young kings, get their heads cut off”. Being a black man in America, that phrase resonates heavy. Finding out that he was Haitian was like icing on the cake. His views on art reflect my own, like the title “black/African-American/Haitian art” I hate titles.
What sparks your creativity?
I’m pretty open; I think that God sends little things to ignite me. It could be a song lyric, a line from a poem, a smile. Anything can spark me. Often times it could be something like a friend suggesting a title and me forcing myself to figure out how to create something that would work with it. I’ve had moments standing on a ladder at work and something just clicks with me. Often times my most “powerful” ones, at least what people say are powerful would be painting based off direct life experiences.
How do your parents feel about your being a painter?
I would be a liar if I told you I knew. I believe at first my mother wasn’t a hundred percent sure what I was doing but lately after seeing some of the results, I’m sure she’s proud. I know whenever she gets a chance, she’s quick to take one of my paintings and hang it. Other than that, I couldn’t truly tell you. I love my father, but he has Alzheimer’s so I’ll never know. Sometimes…. Well most times, I wish I discovered that this lane in art was meant for me much sooner so he could of really seen this. However, everything happens for a reason I suppose.
What would you say is your best work?
I knew I would have to encounter this question. I can’t say. I’m reminded of this Stevie Wonder interview, when asked what was his favorite song, he responded “They’re like my children. I can’t pick one, one day it’s “Superstation”, others it’s “Ribbon in the Sky””. I feel the same way with my art, at this current moment I’ll probably say I’m leaning towards “Lotus Flower Bomb” but that’s just because it’s the most recent one I’ve painted and the connection I have to it. Tomorrow, or even in an hour from now it maybe “2Roads2AmericanDream” or “Rogue’s Smile”…I’m indecisive. It’s really what others feel. I just create to create.
Do you have a painting collection? Is there any particular piece that you value the most?
By collection do you mean other artist, or the dust collecting paintings of my own? Right now, no I don’t have a collection by any other artist other than a few pieces made for me by my close friends. Believe me though I have EVERY intention of buying a lot of artwork. Mostly from local artist, I definitely need some of Bua’s work.
In terms of the future, where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
If you asked me this a year ago, I would have given you a blank stare and told you I have no clue. It literally wasn’t until a few months ago that I truly figured not only do I want to really be an artist, but that I have a goal for my future. Ultimately, I want to have a gallery open in less than a year.
In 10 years, I want a few galleries open across the U.S. and in Haiti for artist like me who aren’t accepted in the “art world”. Who grew up not really knowing how far they can go with a paint brush. I feel like the next big artist, is on a street corner somewhere waiting to be inspired to change the world with art. Biggie said to get out you have to either sling crack rock or have a wicked jump-shot. I want to show that you can use the skills God gave you with a paint brush as well.
A friend of mine told me once that art is a lost art in our community, even though it’s such a powerful weapon. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how powerful a painting can be. I just want to be able to leave my footprints in the sand. Leave a “Beach chair” for my future children. What I mean by Beach Chair is if you ever listen to Jay-Z’s song “Beach Chair” you’ll hear how he’s leaving a legacy for his future kids. Something they can be proud of and will secure them so they can enjoy life to the fullest. That’s what I want and hope I can do with art. Prior to art, I wasn’t sure I wanted kids one day, now I’m certain. And when I do, I want them to have a shinny new beach chair and know their father really accomplished something with his time here on Earth.
Why do you think that out of all of Haiti’s art forms, painting has been among the most globally appreciated.
There is something undeniably magical about Haitian art from what I personally notice. I don’t know, maybe it’s the rawness and beauty of colors. Maybe it’s the pride or passion that leaks on to the canvas from our history. I’m not sure I can put my finger on it. It really stands out, even from “African” art. Lord knows I couldn’t tell you. But I can tell you, I am forever grateful to know it’s from my people.
You can purchase art from this very gifted artist here.