Haitian-American painter Albert Dépas fills the 4th floor gallery of Boricua College, in Washington Heights, with vibrantly colored paintings, some that extend floor to practically the ceiling. His current solo exhibition, “Self: The Quest for a Personal Identity” runs until Oct. 30 at the College, 3755 Broadway, corner of West 156th Street in upper Manhattan.
In the age of branding and identity, everyone is asserting a self and artists are far more engaged in the pursuit of finding an identity to claim their own niche. “This is a life-long pursuit of mine,” says Dépas, of his yearning to know self.
Dépas says, “I was inspired by philosopher David Hume, who asserts that for most people, when they search for a personal identity, all they see is a bundle of perception.” He continues, “However, I believe that for those who may not be conscious of this perception of a self, they have an instinctual ability by which they can discover this self.”
Drawing from his extensive studies and life experiences, the artist has attempted to depict aspects of Hume’s bundles of perceptions, through which, while moving from one image to the next, the viewer might extract a recognizable element that congeals into this notion of a personal identity.
Prominent in this exhibition are four large oil paintings (4’ x 6’) in the self-conscious phase. In these vivid images, the viewer is dazzled by primary and some muted colors, with strong black outlines, that evoke stained glass composition.
While saturated color dominates the exhibit, there are two panels, reproductions of a series of 48 black and white drawings-smaller works, that highlight the conscious and the sub-conscious phase.
Dépas’s focus extends over 25 years. Exhibited at Westbeth Gallery (1991) in the West Village, his painting entitled “Twin of Different Father” alluded to the notion that as human with consciousness, born of physical parents, we also have a spiritual connection.
In Dépas’s first volume of poetry, “Metamorphosis of Joy,” in his poem “A Puzzle Within” Dépas, as poet, addresses the complexity of finding that self. He begins his poem: With a do it yourself kit, I painted a portrait, a self-portrait, With a do it yourself kit I painted a portrait, a self-portrait, Me-Myself-and I.
This current exhibit is, in fact, part of a full “Self Series” where Dépas depicts the three phases of self: the conscious, the subconscious and the self-conscious–each phase having 24 images to represent the hours of the day.
Dépas’s artwork has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions, here and abroad. His art and poetry have been published in several journals. Currently, artist Dépas is an adjunct professor at Boricua College, teaching art history and a hands-on workshop, in which the students create art in different mediums.
“Self: The Quest for a Personal Identity” remains on view until Oct. 30, 2015, at Boricua College, Hours are Monday to Friday. from 10 am to 7 pm, and Saturday from 9 am to 12 noon.