The art of simple happiness

Art nurtures civilisations. Accordingly, generations of Mauritian artists have contributed to shaping our country’s identity, in all its multiplicity. These idealists—with idyllic, sometimes candid, but always passionate point of views—inspired their descendants who, in turn, bequeath a message to posterity. We did not choose this article’s standpoint: it compelled itself, like a harmonised heartfelt outcry from Claire Thévenau, Brian Lamoureux and Elliott Yan Luk. All three dreaming of a Mauritius with no artifice… Dreaming of simple happiness.

 

“Getting back to basics”

Claire Thévenau, poet

Luxury Mauritius Bonheur Ordinaire Claire Thévenau Portrait

Kaya. For Claire, this name is equivalent to the bountifulness of the Mauritian identity. In her twenties, the author of the poetry collections La poursuite du meilleur (2014) and Suivre une étoile (2019) discovers the “visionary, transgenerational and transcultural” texts of this singer, along with the charms of the creole language. Regardless of an undeniable shift in our morals and way of life, Claire concedes that the racial questions raised by the creator of the “seggae” still remain relevant today. Just like his call for unity. Claire also tells us about the Sega band Cassiya. “Their words create imageries and engrave moments of life, the Mauritian way. The mason heading to work… The terrace of a Creole hut… These artists have a palpable impact and set themselves up as models for the communities to which they speak.” Like them, Claire’s pen is handy. Finding beauty in simplicity is what we must always strive to find. “Happiness is in a sunset, a swim in the sea, a sincere friendship. The lockdown gave us time to get back to basics. We must not lose this anchoring.

 

“Make things special”

Elliott Yan Luk, photographer and videographer

Luxury Mauritius Bonheur Ordinaire Elliott Yan Luk Portrait

Elliott has an eye for simplicity. “In my photos, almost nothing is happening. I love to capture these moments, overshadowed by events. Someone looking at his phone, waiting, tying up his shoelaces… By choosing to point my camera at something, it makes it a little bit special.” An approach which he shares with his mentor, Yves Pitchen. He came upon the latter’s work through the Borderline exhibition in 2016, and thanks to his book, Mauritians. “This great photographer projects memories of past decades. He not only illustrates the complexity of all that was part of it—from conflicts to social and community relationships— he also shares, in a more spontaneous way, snippets of their lives.” Elliott tried himself at visual arts that same year, with Portrait over Canvas—a documentary showcasing six local painters. Two years later, for the 50th anniversary of our country, he exhibited alongside seasoned and talented photographers. At just 22, he casts a baffling mature outlook at our society. “I somehow document the spirit of my era, which is in quest of balance, between progress and traditions.

 

“Valuing our hidden treasures”

Brian Lamoureux, illustrator

Luxury Mauritius Bonheur Ordinaire Brian Lamoureux Portrait

Looking for Brian? Try the alleys of the capital. His work was discovered there in 2015, during the first edition of the Porlwi festival. The urban sketcher and watercolourist likes to wander there, in search of architectural jewels. The singularity of a building and its history— or which he has fun imagining— are his inspirations. “I live in Port-Louis. I am surrounded by old buildings by which no one stops, yet form part of our cultural heritage. So I try to capture, understand, transmit and perhaps save this zeitgeist…” The artist also frequently takes a breather, notebook and pen in hand, in sub-urban areas. Often stigmatised, they can be frightening… However, when sitting on the sidewalk, Brian attracts the gaze of the curious, who willingly approach him. One question leads to another, which in turn leads to a dialogue, to finally create a connection. “The suburbs should not connote messiness. Some Mauritians build their little nest there and live happily, in all modesty. A very valuable lesson! And if people fail to cherish it, I try to pay tribute to it and raise awareness.