Michèle Chomereau-Lamotte

1953 | Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, France

French visual artist, illustrator and muralist.

Born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Michèle Chomereau-Lamotte grew up in Paris. After enrolling in a preparatory school for entry to the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 1974, at the age of 21, she returned to Guadeloupe. Though it was her interest in the Italian Renaissance as well as the surrealism of Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) that brought her to painting, it was in Guadeloupe that she began to paint. She did so under the tutelage of Michel Rovélas (b. 1939), who in 1972 had opened a school in Pointe-à-Pitre, on Rue du Commandant Mortenol. From 1977 onwards M. Chomereau-Lamotte showed her work at the Rémy Nainsouta Gallery, which would go on to become one of the city’s cultural hubs. In 1979 her work was exhibited at one of the first festivals focusing on Caribbean art, CARIFESTA, Caribbean Festival of Arts. First held in 1972 in Guyana, the festival’s aim is to strengthen unity in the region; it takes place in a different Caribbean city each year.

M. Chomereau-Lamotte’s work as a visual artist concentrates almost exclusively on the history of the Antilles, and, more broadly, on the history of the Caribbean. In an interview for a 1986 issue of the journal Jougwa she explained that “today’s painters have an obligation to be politically engaged”, and that “everything that is political is in the domain of the arts”, going on to stipulate that her own engagement is directed towards what was then still termed the “monde noir” (Black world): “When I talk about Black people, I talk about the Black world in its entirety, as much in Guadeloupe as in the United States or in Africa.” Close to the realist current that flowed through Antillais literature and painting in the 1960s and 1970s, among whose notable figures was the writer Joseph Zobel, M. Chomereau-Lamotte maintained a political relationship to place and locality, which became a decisive force in her work. This is clear in her painting on parchment Omaj a Vélo(2014), which, as indicated by its title, pays homage to the Guadeloupian percussionist Marcel Lollia, known as Vélo; or the mural Le Rêve de Titiv [Titiv’s Dream], created in 1986 in Pointe-à-Pitre, which has made its mark on the collective life of the city. Far away from the realities of Western art, murals as much as painting are, for her, one way of contributing to the emergence of a personal and collective memory, something previously obstructed by France’s colonialist political agenda and own national narrative.

In the 1980s M. Chomereau-Lamotte was at the forefront of the creation of the association GREPAC (Group for Research in Aesthetics and Contemporary Visual Arts) alongside other artists including M. Rovélas, Christian Bracy and Jack Ferly. After exhibiting several times in the Caribbean, a retrospective of her work was held in 1997 at the Centre des Arts et Culture in Pointe-à-Pitre.

Chris Cyrille

Translated from the French by Flora Hibberd.

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