STILL LIFE | NATURE MORTEFABIENNE FRANCOTTE
Fabienne Francotte's work looks at what remains in the aftermath of trauma, abuse and
migratory displacement. In Nature Morte, she situates the human body as the site of these
afflictions. Working with abuse victims, Fabienne created this collection over several years,
often informed by her creative workshops. These drawing projects took place in circumstances
ranging from mental hospitals and children's development centres in Sri Lanka to Rohingya
refugees in Bangladesh and troubled youth in Belgium. Nature Morte questions how we, as a
society, speak about invisible wounds, hidden traumas and pervasive power structures in our
An installation of black fabric titled The Curtains reveals hidden
stories of trauma and abuse; the writing on the artwork becomes a form of mark-making and
creative energy. This force is not well-defined or complete; it is an experience and a healing
process. The drapes signify the intentional hiding away of something.
THIS DID (NOT) HAPPEN
Fabienne explores these storytelling elements further in a series of imaginary portraits
titled It Did (Not) Happen. This portrait series makes conceptual leaps in balancing realistic
impressions of facial features with calligraphic and gestural brushwork and painterly abstraction.
Language boundaries are surpassed here as facial expressions and the eyes, in particular,
speak volumes that the mouth and the spoken tongue cannot. The termite-ridden textures of the
canvas suggest a passage of time and a repetition of relapses and traumatic episodes
necessary for the complex healing process.
THE INVISIBLE WORDS
THE FRAGMENTED BODY
In The Fragmented Body, a series of mixed media work on brown cardboard
sheets, she depicts disembodied segments of the male and female human bodies. Phantom
limbs float in thoughtful spaces blushed with reds and blues. On closer inspection, the arms,
legs and torsos carry a darker and bloodier story of violence, hurt and mutilation. Fabienne
quotes the artist Louise Bourgeois stating that blue represents peace, meditation and escape.
The pictures provide an outlet for hurt and despair by giving the act of suffering a voice;
conversely, they create a space for the audience to participate in a transformative thinking
The display of kneecap bone sculptures, titled Bones Don't Lie, comments on the body's resilience. As our
muscles and memories have the flexibility to both hold and release deep tensions, the skeletal
structures of our bodies present a different narrative. They are rugged, dense and compact, and
their aesthetic qualities reveal the capacity to possess suffering and grace simultaneously.
Fabienne focuses on the kneecap to reflect how one can metaphorically walk again after
suffering defeat, as the bone joint is pivotal in movement. The idea for the sculptures emerged
during the pandemic, and they show the fractures and traces of the production process. This
process implies that such faults cultivate the more nuanced aspects of beauty over time.
The communication of emotion and feeling is crucial in Fabienne's work. Nature Morte is a
physical translation of painful and overwhelming experiences people have suffered. A self-
taught artist, Fabienne's relationship with her art practice extends beyond academic
intellectualism and delves deeply into what it means to connect with people. Her work is about
being human in what seems to be a primarily dehumanised world devoid of moral values. She
sees the marginalised and creates bridges between worlds.