Ghetto Landscapes


Icart-Pierre uses a contemporary aesthetic to tell reoccurring social problems, while evoking the Neo-Concrete movement of the 1960s. Through poetry and urban vernacular, he explores how words are artistically used in our world. The series also focuses on abstract forms and the use of color rather than concrete shapes. In Ghetto Sketches, Icart-Pierre attempts to evoke political sentiments and a greater sense of freedom from his audience.

In this series, Icart-Pierre creates what he calls a "Ghetto Landscape". He uses conceptually based objects and materials, such as ropes, police baricades, and posters ripped from advertising billboards, to create his artwork. Many of these are found in the streets. With them, he creates dioramas of ghetto "bodegas" and street corners. The objects are incorporated into the painting or scattered in front of it. The images are painted with oil, spray paint, and collage. Icart-Pierre says he is interested in letting the viewer be part of the work in order to have them identify with the content. "in my work, I try to show the 'nihilism' that exists in certain urban neighborhoods." He uses symbols, words, and light to show that there is hope for the future as well as a need to struggle. The paintings are bold, gritty, and "beautifully ugly". The ugliness is exactly the point of the work. "I am trying to convey the loss of hope, the loss of love, and the absence of meaning that exist in 'ghetto' communities." Activist and scholar Cornel West describes it as a "nihilistic threat" and sees nihilism as the major enemy of black America. Icart-Pierre conveys the same sentiment and sucks the viewer into the work in a more immediate way so that they may experience it more intensely. Nihilism is the American dream deferred, where traditional morality is undermined by corporations and marketing in order to make a profit. Icart-Pierre is saying that nihilism can be conquered. He uses neon lights in a symbolic way, the lights implying something more than what they are. He also uses images of the phoenix, and images of the mythic Sankofa bird. The Sankofa is derived from the Akan people of West Africa. It teaches us that we should absorb the best of what the past has to teach us so we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. The Sankofa is represented as a heart shape with curls at its end and also as a bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg, symbolising the future in its mouth.