Richard Barbot was born in Haiti and has lived in Montreal since his childhood. He has displayed his work since 1984, including his first solo exhibit a year later. Recently, Barbot held an exhibit at the Manhattan headquarters of SEIU 1199 union. Barbot says that the human figure often represents the central element of his paining. “As I paint various characters, I try to create a visual atmosphere through which I can express my thoughts, my emotions or my social commitment. Barbot sat down with the Haitian Times for an interview. 

What does your work express?

My work is the expression of a mood, a sensation or an idea that passes through my mind. Most of the time I listen to music while I’m working. It sets a particular atmosphere that I will try to capture on the canvas.

What does it mean for you to exhibit at Gallery 1199?

The exhibit at 1199 means a lot for me especially because it’s a place that has seen many icons who dedicated their lives to make those of others better. I now have the chance to honor some of them.

Does your work have any connection with any current social or political issues?

The current situation is having an undeniable impact on my work.

It’s impacting the colors and the subjects in a way that may translate sadness or even violence. 

Who are your biggest influences?

When I was younger, I was influenced by the classical masters like Leonardo Davinci,  Rembrandt etc…Growing up,  I became influenced by Johannes Itten

(a master of color theory).

How have you developed your career?

A lot of young artists are afraid of struggling economically so they work on other jobs while they’re crafting their skills. To be a good artist,  I have to be fully committed to my art. This is the only way for me to have a professional career. 

How did you start painting?

It all came naturally. When I was young,  my mother would always give us art supplies to draw and paint.

So we all started to paint at home. 

I was the only one to continue. 

Was it easy for you to navigate the art world?

In order to be successful,  you have to be constantly working hard and doing research to find new ways of expression. It’s never easy but it gives a lot of satisfaction to create. 

That’s the source of our motivation. 

Which current art world trends are you following?

I like to navigate through different sort of art. It can be realistic or abstract. All the different approaches has something that can attract me.

I like to keep a very open mind about what artform I observe. 

What do you want people to feel like after viewing your show?

I want them to share a journey with me through my work. I like to listen to what they have to say after observing my art.

This feedback is really important for me to grow. 

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