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HOMMAGE à Franck LOUISSAINT

Published on April, 5th 2021


Franck LOUISSAINT passed away yesterday. He has left us, and I have a feeling of unfinished business. 50 years of career is no mean feat! He deserved one last retrospective exhibition and a catalog raisonné. A way of paying tribute to him, a way of making him part of our heritage, a way of thanking him! We had been discussing this exhibition for almost two years...

If Franck LOUISSAINT's career could be summed up in three words, they would be acuity, transmission and conservation.


Acuity

As soon as he entered a room, his scrutinizing gaze pierced the space, wandering from person to person and object to object. Franck would then catalogue - eyes resting and drowning in vagueness - the disparities in volume, the samples of light and the color charts just harvested - in anticipation of the next seeding.

Museums the world over preserve his finest fruits. In true Indigenous style, Franck's realistic paintings tell us, show us, question us individually and as a society.


Transmission

I can hear in the distance the cacophony of his thousands of former students, from the Centre d'Art, ENARTS and the GoC, praising his rigor, intransigence and meticulousness. He left his mark on them all, for the better, and if some of them excel today, it's because his formal admonitions still resonate.


Conservation

"From the top left row to the bottom right, the people in the photo are [so-and-so, so-and-so, so-and-so] me [so-and-so, so-and-so, so-and-so] and then the man and woman at the end are two American tourists from Detroit. The photo was taken at the Centre d'Art in 1974. It had been a beautiful day," Franck once replied to me after sending him an archive photo via WhatsApp. I simply don't have his kind of memory!!!

In addition to his key role in the rescue of post-earthquake heritage and the opening of the Centre de conservation des biens culturels de l'Université Quisqueya (UniQ), of which he was chief curator, Franck was a living encyclopedia for Love-Mary (in charge of the archives) and me. He was one of the last links between the Centre d'Art of the 20th century and that of the 21st.


Haitian art mourns one of its greats. Haitian culture mourns one of the architects of its institutionalization. And I mourn one of my elders! Let's hope that, to console us, I'll find the means to mount this heritage exhibition and that all the city's schools will come to re-discover the master! Then it will be a celebration! A celebration of his commitment to creative vitality!


Judith MICHEL

By way of Epilogue, I borrow Robert Lowell's voice:


These blessed structures, intrigue and rhyme ...

why don't they help me now

I want to do

something imagined, not remembered?

I hear the sound of my own voice:

The painter's vision is not a lens,

it trembles to caress the light.

But sometimes everything I write

with the worn art of my eye

seems like a snapshot,

sinister, rapid, garish, clustered,

heightened by life,

yet paralyzed by fact.

Any mismatch.

But why not say what happened?

Pray for the grace of precision

Vermeer gave the sun's illumination

fly like the tide on a chart

to his solid daughter with envy.

We are poor passing facts,

warned by this to give

every figure in the picture

its living name.

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