Staying united with art

Get the value from art while also enjoying it says Ghislain Brown-Kossi, a Vancouver-based French artist who explores loneliness, division and the good and bad sides of technology in his exhibit Are We Still Together (Jan.14–Feb. 15) at PoMoArts.

“I don’t want to sell something just to sell something, I want my art to mean something,” says Brown-Kossi.

He is also putting out a small capsule collection where pieces from the exhibition will be on t-shirts.

From France to Vancouver

Ghislain Brown-Kossi explores our dependence on technology and need for human connection in his work. | Photo curtesy of Ghislain Brown-Kossi

Originally from France, Brown-Kossi, went to school for fashion and was working as a store manager for a luxury clothing brand.

“I think I’m very curious and have different skills, and art is one of the best ways I can express what I want to tell to the world,” explains Brown-Kossi. “I was not enjoying my work, when you are creative, you want to do more stuff.”

At the time his artwork was a hobby, but in 2016, he decided to quit his job and applied for a work visa to come to Canada.

“When I was in France I was making money to live and I thought, ‘I’m just going to do this everyday?’ I wasn’t very happy,” he says. “But here, [in Vancouver] even though I’m not making as much money because it’s a new career, I’m still happy because I’m doing what I really love to do. As a store manager, I wasn’t able to share what I was thinking in my head, but with art you have more opportunities to express yourself.”

Brown-Kossi landed in Vancouver in 2017 and began pursuing a career as an artist, learning the trade on his own.

“I discovered a big part of myself here, and I think, no, I’m sure, I feel way better than when I was working in retail,” he says.

Making the world better

Brown-Kossi says he needs to be insync with his idea of life for it to be authentic. Being real with others as he shares his hard work.

“There are a lot of different things happening in the world right now; and I was asking myself if I’m doing something for the world, or for myself?” says the artist.

As change is continual – technological, political, social and spiritual – he asked himself, ‘How am I making the world better?’

That’s how the idea for Are We Still Together arose.

“We need to be able to balance the technology with the physical,” says Brown-Kossi.

Inspired by everything around him, the artist says he creates his vision in his mind first and continues to add to it after doing research. Once he’s happy with the picture he’s mentally created, he creates the work physically.

Brown-Kossi says he is a contemporary artist who takes a social approach, inspired by pop art which is demonstrated by the figures in his work as well as the meaning behind it.

“This is why the meaning is very important to me; we are different but our differences make a rich future for everyone; we are separate but we have to stay united,” he says.

A mix of new and old

“These paintings are a mix between the new technology and the old technology,” says Brown-Kossi.

Brown-Kossi’s paintings consist of symbols, representing the way in which we used to share knowledge and text bubbles, which represent how we communicate now: through text, email or posts.

Symbols are the opposite of a divided population, points out Brown-Kossi,around the world. Symbols equal unity, he says, and we have to stay a unit.

Brown-Kossi’s use of text bubbles are the part of technology reminding people, the need, especially now, what is truly missing: human connection.

“We are more and more dependent on technology; technology is good because we are closer right now even if we’re apart, but at the same time you stay at home and there is no pure value,” he says.

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