Cape Town I 5 May to 18 Jun 2016
Florine Demosthene is an American-born artist of Haitian descent. Demosthene’s work mainly explores the black female body and the stereotypical notions that are attributed to it. Demosthene previously exhibited at Gallery MOMO Johannesburg and will now for the first time have a solo exhibition at Gallery MOMO Cape Town.
For her show at Gallery MOMO Johannesburg, Florine Demosthene explored the notion of the female as heroine. The show titled, The Capture, investigated the mythical quest Demosthene set out to recreate society’s views and perceptions of the black female body. She depicted herself in various narratives and allegories. The visualised black female bodies in Demosthene’s artworks are provocative, sexual and enticing.
Florine Demosthene explains: “Images do not prompt me to create, words do. I spend an inordinate amount of time reading, writing and researching, before approaching the canvas. When a particular concept intrigues me, generally I will be influenced by reading an essay or article, rather than observing art. My artwork navigates between stereotypes and representation. It magnifies the subtlety of racial constructs and how viewers have become comfortable with derogatory images. My work seeks to examine how black culture is codified and commodified”. Demosthene is piqued by the physical size of the black female body and how her physicality dictates a certain set of ideals and behavior.
For her new show, titled The Burst, Desmosthene moves beyond the search of the heroine. She rather starts to explore the feminine side of the black female body. Demosthene was previously Captured, and now she is “Bursting”. This ‘burst’ should not be viewed as a physical one but rather psychological/metaphorical. In psychology, psychologists refer to a burst, or rather an extinction burst, as the idea of eliminating a behaviour by refusing to reinforce it. Demosthene in her own right, is eliminating the behavior and misconceptions attributed to the black female body. She places the body in ethereal dream-like spaces, where the main protagonist entertains a multitude of emotions and genres; bursting forth with new possibilities and ways of exploring herself, both physically and sexually. Demosthene becomes a dichotomy of possibilities, intertwining seductive nuances whilst simultaneously playing with the viewer’s thoughts.