After 20 years of working with children in Belgium, the artist began her artistic practice with a course in calligraphy, a technique that is still evident in much of her work. Having exhibited her works extensively in Europe the artist moved to Sri Lanka in 2016 and continued to engage with communities across different social strata, allowing her to absorb her new environment and interpret these experiences into her first exhibition of works in Colombo, 'It's Like Someone Took My Soul'. The portraits, inspired by Fabienne's personal journey through daily life and the complexities of the Sri Lankan identities she met. The works were infused with the essence of her many interactions, which then, at the time of their creation, spontaneously intermingle with her memories and her mood. While featuring external, physical features, her works lend insight to the inside of each persona. She reveals an interior human world, at times disturbing, but always beautiful. Through her art, Fabienne becomes an unintentional conduit of the soul.

 

Her portraits are about the characteristics of class, gender, and race. They are a tale of the daily struggle showing distinctive appearances, expressions, and gestures. Her people are everyday and anonymous. Through them, she communicates the conflicting issues in Sri Lanka today: school and education, dreams and weddings, sex and business, silence and fear, courage and dedication, as well as religion and tolerance.

 

For Fabienne, drawing is thinking. It is the language she speaks. She concentrates on the encouragement of free self-expression through drawing, painting, and sculpture. It is this same freedom and empathy that she brings to her time spent at the NIMH in Angoda and at the Siviraja Children's Development Center for the deaf and blind. Facilitating a "breath of fresh air," through art making, exploration, and encouragement, Fabienne provides a space for students and patients to confidentially draw outside the lines. Drawing functions as a safety net, giving the students the feeling of being "normal." Her goal is to combine education, self esteem, and quality of life in each experience with her students.

 

'Being the Other' maps junctures of shared trauma communicated through wordless intimacies experienced by the artist as she was invited to Bangladesh. Following traces of bodies once whole, now violently contorted, Francotte inquires about what responsibility we have toward the visible or even the partially visible. The empty backgrounds holding these isolated figures implicate the viewer in a kind of involvement. They ask us to consider how we manoeuvre questions of responsibility when we are confronted with the experiences of others. A skimmed viewing of the pieces may risk engendering associations of loneliness, abuse, and suffering. The artist encourages sustained looking instead, particularly toward the images that a viewer may find hard to take in. Francotte invites to "not just see the drama of the surface, but move beyond it into the container of the soul." Perhaps this is the first step in a path to action where to 'be the other' is not to compare pain, but instead to mutually recognize it in ourselves.