Florine Démosthène - AMERICAN AFRICAN AMERICAN New York Friday, February 8, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1971, New York, NY

    2002 MFA, Hunter College-City University, New York
    1998 BFA, Parsons the New School for Design, New York

    Selected honors: Tulsa Artist Fellowship (2018); Arts Moves Africa Grant (2015); Creative Black Star Award (2015); and Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2011)
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: Musée de l'Homme, Paris; and The Malcolm, Brooklyn, NY
    Selected public collections: Lowe Museum of Art, University of Miami; University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria South Africa

    Born in the United States and raised between Port au-Prince, Haiti, and New York, Florine Demosthene spent several years living and working across Africa. Demosthene is an artist with a truly global outlook. Using a combination of figurative and abstract mark making, Demosthene constructs alternative landscapes to re-evaluate the socio-political structures and conditions that surround black female sexuality and physicality today. The protagonists of her compositions are black heroines, depicted with rich folds of flesh as they weightlessly float through the air. “Would you be willing to suspend all your preconceived notions of what a heroine is supposed to be?”, Demosthene was quoted by Ayoediji Rotinwa, “Can we exist within ourselves without comparing and contrasting to white culture?”

    This investigation of themes surrounding race and gender is deeply informed by Demosthene’s own experiences. A visit to Ghana in 2009 served a critical turning point in both her life and career; it was in Accra that she, as Ayoediji Rotinwa noted in her March 2018 Artsy feature, “no longer carried the burden of being a Black woman the way she had in the West… In Accra, Demosthene was not a minority. There were many others like her, their skin the color of autumn leaves freshly set adrift from trees, or the color of the star in Ghana’s national flag… In Accra, the artist was suddenly a new woman, one who emerged gradually through this series of mixed-media work.” Because Demosthene could not find any models in Accra willing to pose semi-nude, she became her own subject, posing for photographs that she would combine with references found online and in magazines to serve as a study for her final paintings and works on paper. As Demosthene explains, “For me, my art has been a peeling away of layers of preconceived ideas; much in the way a snake sheds its skin, this slow shedding process can be viewed as a continual rebirth of my identity.” If her earlier work examined the commodification and fetishization of black culture, more recent works such as Where is the love you promised me are a poetic and jubilant re-assertion of Demosthene’s own sense of self.


Where is the love you promised me...Where is it?

Mylar, ink, glitter, metal leaf and pigment stick on paper
44 x 30 in. (111.8 x 76.2 cm.)
Executed in 2018.

Estimate On Request


New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019