In his collection of essays, Caribbean Discourse, ´Edouard Glissant describes the Creole languages and literatures of the French Antilles and the pedagogical projects that strive to bring greater understanding and appreciation to créolitié as an “exploded discourse.” In Glissant’s thinking, the ruptures and disassembling in vernacular speech in the Francophone Caribbean result in an “exemplary phenomenon,” a “counterpoetics,” and a “compact mass, pushing us through a dimension of emptiness where we must with difficulty and pain put it all back together.” Glissant’s idea of fractured yet imaginative Creole communiqués have a counterpart in the paintings, sculptures, and collages of the Haitian-born, Paris-based artist Hervé Télémaque (b. 1937). After studying in the mid-1950s at the Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Télémaque moved to New York City, where he attended the Art Students League and embraced abstract expressionism. By 1961, Télémaque had relocated to Paris, where his first paintings produced there brought him much success. Télémaque’s subsequent career, during which he took up structuralist, poststructuralist, and postmodernist modes of image making, not only garnered broad institutional recognition and critical accolades, but also situated him within the French art historical modernist canon and a cultural field that one might describe as black Atlantic, global in scope and discursively cosmopolitan. This article summarily tracks Hervé Télémaque’s sixty-plus-year career: a path where his artistic practices harken back to Glissant’s theories of an insurgent creolité and produce uncharted, creative passageways in concert with his fellow wayfarers throughout the greater African diaspora.
Richard J. Powell; The Brown Paper Bag Test: Hervé Télémaque’s Exploded Discourse. Nka 1 November 2018; 2018 (42-43): 234–249. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-7185905
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