OF PIERCING MEMORIES
The phrase ‘a picture says a thousand words’ recalls a belief that a story can be translated into a singular picture and this notion is what artist, Fabienne Francotte embodies in her newest exhibition ‘I Don’t Know but I Remember’ which was held on the 20th February at Saskia Fernando Gallery. The act of retaining a memory in pages, often like a diary, is distinct in its ability to hold sentiment and thoughts. Throughout her journey, Fabienne chronicles every beautiful moment she experiences and it is through this assurance, we believe that this exhibition narrates stories in the medium of visual art, transpiring emotions and reactions encountered into the mind of the viewer. Fabienne Francotte visited Sri Lanka in 2016 and has been recording these intimate moments since, creating a visual diary of memories collected over the course of three and a half years.
Fabienne’s journey has been documented in ARTRA Magazine, Art & Light, March E41 2019 exploring her contrast of colour through depictions of her interactions with Pettah merchants and those in the community. ARTRA Magazine, Dynamic Mediums of Art, May E43, 2019 features Fabienne’s work on the cover, capturing the depths of loss, trauma and empathy witnessed and suffered in the Easter attacks, powerfully. Her works were those of consolation but also a depiction of the agonising consequences and after effects of loss. Subsequently, ARTRA found her works dealing with subjects that surpassed media reports and news declarations in bringing to light the many inflictions and emotions faced by those confronting violence. Her works encapsulated the disheartening incidents and highlighted the dynamicity of visual art in depicting compelling testaments of the consequences of the tragic incidents.
Belgium-born artist, Fabienne Francotte first began her journey through the practice of calligraphy. “I was fascinated by notebooks and inks and pen. When I was forty, I decided to write my own stories, I was fascinated by this because it was a minimalist drawing. You just need one stroke or line to tell something and I think it emerged in the drawings I made afterwards,” she explained. Fabienne’s ability to tell a story through her art becomes her purpose to showcase her work, to allow a space for others to explore and discover through her experiences and this distinct ability leads her to her exhibition ‘I Don’t Know but I Remember’. “This title came up when someone asked me how I can speak about stories I don’t know. Because I’m not collecting real data, I’m collecting feelings. When I meet people, it’s like I have a connection with them. So later on, it must ring a bell in my personal history as a human being. There’s always fiction when we translate as artists but that’s the part I remember. And when I draw, everything comes back raw and strong so this is a reflection of what I’m feeling,” she explained. ‘I Don’t Know but I Remember’ presents pages of Fabienne Francotte’s diaries from the years 2016 to 2019, recorded during her first years as an expatriate in Sri Lanka. Cathartically removing each page from within her books, the artist created a chronological visualisation of time, both interconnected and disconnected. The images are a reflection of her surroundings, environment and intimate experiences; a juxtaposition of emotional exchanges and simple observations. ‘I Don’t Know but I Remember’ features works of art recorded from significant and valuable moments or realizations, each piece strong and noteworthy, complemented by texts that give volume. A particular work of art shows a mask. “The emotions of girls who work in factories are masked. These people are so far away from us in their emotions.” Another work of art documents her connection with women she met on the road. Throughout her experience, Fabienne’s exhibitions have showcased faces portrayed strongly, depicting emotion and feeling; often inspired by the individuals she encounters. The artist captures the chaos that lies within the external features of humans in her drawings.
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