Art is many things. In some scenarios, art is therapeutic. In others, art is an unadulterated expression of self; a boundless proclamation of one’s personal identity.
Art can even be a representation of a reality that exists or is a figment of an artist’s imagination. In some instances it is all-in-one.
An all-encompassing expression of human ingenuity and creativity that captures the known and unknown dimensions of being human.
For native-Brooklynite and Haitian-American artist Madjeen Isaac, art is all the above.
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Madjeen, a self-taught painter, began as a novice. What started as a class project gradually became her craft, her livelihood. Then the artist started doing the unthinkable.
Madjeen began to seamlessly blend the hustle and bustle of life in Brooklyn with idyllic elements that are synonymous with life in Haiti and the Caribbean.
Take Isaac’s Flatbush IV for example. The 24x36in painting marries soft pastel colors (typical of traditional Haitian art) with vibrant brown figures that appear to be going about their day.
While the beauty and genius of a piece like Flatbush IV might appear to be in Madjeen’s adroit and delicate brush strokes, it is elsewhere.
What makes Madjeen’s paintings evocative and special is not the technicality but rather her ability to transport the viewer into a world that isn’t quite real. Yet her works still bring forth the feeling that it is indeed real.
“Within my works, I recreate worlds that aren’t real but they’re real to me in a sense that’s what I see in Flatbush. The buildings. The graffiti. The dirtiness of it. Things that make Brooklyn very dark and dirty.”
And taking place somewhere along one of Brooklyn’s main arteries- Flatbush Avenue! Think Toni Morrison or Leslie Marmon Silko’s take on magical realism married with Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory except in paint.
“My work forces me to do research and I’m always observing. Not just my culture but Brooklyn specifically…”
“It’s mixed with a lot of immigrants from the Caribbean so I’m able to learn from them. Their drive. Their hustle. The different languages that they bring. The culture. The music.”
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Luckily for us at Kulture Hub, we had the honor and privilege of linking up with Madjeen and familiarizing ourselves with her work.
Most importantly, we piqued the artist’s brain about what sparks her creativity and learned about how the Afro-Caribbean diasporic enclave that is Flatbush Avenue influenced her upbringing in Brooklyn.
Packed with nothing but gems, amazing cuts, and quintessential scenes of Brooklyn, our interview with Madjeen is a must-watch for any creative.
As the Haitian proverb goes, “Sa ou fè se li ou wè.” “What you do is what you see.”