I grabbed a pile of dry color-stained paintbrushes in my hand and placed them on one of the many canvas brought to life by Pierre Sylvain. As I photographed this, I pondered about how difficult it is for a creative types to sometimes just get started. Do you make an outline or just dive right into the palette with the paint color that feels right at the moment? I sat in the middle of a room surrounded by over a hundred finished works. I feel as though I am looking through a kaleidoscope as the shapes and colors come together on the canvas’s around me. Lights twinkling above me, I soaked in the breadth of what I was witnessing. I could feel the creative energy in the room filling every square inch and I could almost sense that if the paintings had arms, they would break through the four walls spilling their spirit into the world.
Pierre’s has taken his vast artistic journey in many directions. His life journey started as a boy in Haiti who loved soccer and would pick up his first paint brush when he was just around seven years old. Through the pigments of color, he explores the relationship of the symbols of his Catholic upbringing as it intertwined with his curiosity of Haitian voodoo culture. On the flip-side I turned around and found myself peering down Mick Jagger's epiglottis and could almost hear him uttering the words, "Hey you, get off of my cloud”. As we talked, music fills the room playing to the portraits of musicians, politicians and American heroes like Muhammad Ali and Ray Charles. I interpret it as a cast of characters who all intermingle out of his deep desire to connect the human journey. His trip wasn’t simple and without telling me I could sense this through his work. I could see joy and toil, all through a vortex of color. Running my hands through the pieces of tile he had cut for his mosaic, I tried to piece together in my mind who this man is.
Our son’s are the closest of friends meeting through Xavier High School and I am happy that our paths crossed. His son is the friend you want your son to have. I looked downward at a small ship model mixed into a black and white mixed media work depicting the plight of slavery. He comes back to the subject of our sons and reflects that telling the journey of raw hardship is a real way to teach his own children of the fortune and unbridled opportunity we have today. He smiled as he tells me that no one has an excuse when the world sits at your fingertips. I can tell he doesn’t take things for granted by the depth of his art, as he fills every moment he can exploring the visual and tactile world he dwells in.
In the moment, I imagine that less than a mile away, out of the depths of his basement studio, a world swirls, buzzing with cell phones, and all the noise pollution that weighs us down. As this storm ensues, he takes a steadfast approach of reimagining and dissecting all of its beauty with paint and chips of mosaic tile. It’s perfect.
There are very few full time artist, It takes bucketloads of grit and self awareness to endure the many tasks to find any type of commercial success. His willingness is admirable beyond measure.
He smiles an easy and wide smile; perhaps because his passion and willingness to work tirelessly on his craft makes him feel complete. He comes across not like the frustrated artist we so often hear of, but of one liberated by the colors and the brush stokes he chooses.