By: T. Felder
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/15/23 – Haitian-born artist Samson Tonton came to the US in 2007 with his six siblings and single mother hoping to build a better life. Tonton has always been interested in drawing and painting. Shortly after his arrival, he entered college, enrolling in the New England Institute of Art in Boston, Massachusetts, where he studied media art and animation. It wasn’t long before Tonton realized he had chosen the wrong major. “I couldn’t stand staying in front of a computer for hours and hours. However, I can spend months working on a painting. I didn’t switch because I was stubborn and like to finish what I start” – Tonton tells THT his regret of not choosing fine art as his major.
Tonton has exceeded all expectations with his cubism-style paintings. When asked if his work was inspired by other cubism artists such as Pablo Picasso, Tonton refutes this statement replying, “This is a much, much older style that has African origins, and so I do want people to know more about art history and perhaps my paintings can spark an interest. I want my art to celebrate African culture and reflect the essence of black artistry.”
During a one-on-one interview, THT could delve into Tonton’s mind and discover what inspires him and how he processes his visions and turns them into these beautiful works of art.
THT: When and why did you start painting?
ST: I started painting when I was 16, I was using it to impress girls. Then I ended up getting married young and that kind of came to an end. I was trying to find myself; I didn’t know what I wanted to say or represent with my art. I spent five years in college studying media and animation and decided after college that I would focus seriously on painting. I’ve been painting heavily ever since. In fact, it’s been over seven years.
THT: Your style of art is Cubism, how did you come about creating works within that genre?
ST: In college, while studying media and animation. We used software to create humans by breaking down blocks. Then I started studying the greats and found that they were more polished and a lot stronger than me. I realized I would have to put in a lot more effort to get the results I was looking for. I worked day and night, now art has become second nature. I’m very grateful for this gift.
THT: What artists inspired you?
ST: One of my biggest influences are Haitian artist Jean Francois Portillo, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. After learning the meaning behind these artists works, I felt like it gave me a reason to not hold anything back. Now I do whatever I need to do to create work that is authentic to who I truly am.
THT: Why do you think black artists face so many challenges when trying to get their work displayed?
ST: We lack the support not only from outside sources, but also within our own communities. Most Black artist don’t receive support until they gain some sort of popularity.
THT: What’s next for you?
ST: Working towards receiving more recognition for my work.
THT: Do you have anything in particular that you’re working on this year?
ST: Yes. I’ve been drawing every day for my next series. I have thirteen drawings I’ve already made to prepare for the series. This series is about a man blending in, it’s about me finding a way to blend into this world, my world of art.
THT: How can people find you?
ST: My website www.artsbytonton.com , Instagram @artsbytonton , Twitter @SamsonTonton
“I’m Here to Stay Deal with It”