Ancestral Memory, Struggle, and Vision in Haitian Art
Anthropology studies humans in all time and all places. It focuses upon human action, thought, and behavior; that is what is termed “culture.” Art is culture. Haitian art is born out of culture. It is up to us to decode the message wrapped in the systems of signs of the artists. Beyond the western distinction of “primitive” in contrast with “formal” art, this art reveals a way of life. It is the most fundamental dimension of Haitian art. What is essential in culture is its transcendental character through space and time. It is human experience handed down from generation to generation.
The artist is a craftsman who considers aesthetic effect in addition to, or instead of, the uses of his product. In the case of Haiti, aesthetics is complex because of the various sources of the cultural heritage. Haitian art also teaches the social customs and traditions of the country. It is primarily the Haitian popular culture which inspires the majority of Haitian artists.
The work of art is always rooted in the land where the people live, but never ends there, and, never comes completely from the earth. The work of art is both otherworldly and inner worldly. Haitian art has both dimensions. It is image and also represents an ideal, which lies in the horizon and remains never completely accessible, penetrable, nor factual.
Haitian art represents a totality. It projects on Haiti a great dignity and a great sense of worth. It “stands today like a remarkable monument among an impoverished people who are by no means poor in spirit…”
Cited from Ancestral Memory, Struggle, and Vision in Haitian Art (2004) With the author’s permission.
Dr. Guérin C. Montilus, Professor of Anthropology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Bécel was born in Haiti and he began to draw at the tender age of 5 and was intrigued by the work of great artists. His earlier education in the field of architecture gave him a great knowledge in unity achieved by the consistent use of lines, color, material and texture within a design. His artwork is a reflection on life and how it frames the human experience. Bécel’s inspiration comes from the memories of his native land as well as his everyday observation of life all over. His religious background and his passion for jazz are also source of inspiration. www.becelarts.com
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti this talented artist embraced his calling into decorative art at a very early age and attended L’Ecole des beaux Arts. He learned the basics of design and acrylics from well renowned contemporary Haitian Master, Dorcely. Michael Brudent has proven himself to be an exceptional artist and is known by the Haitian Nationals at large for the mastery of his brush strokes and colors. www.solfimi.com
Her artwork explores human experiences of strength, resilience, and renewal through expressive portraits, depictions of the human figure and abstractions of line and color, seeking to capture a fleeting mood or emotion. Using oil, acrylic or watercolor she creates figurative and semi-abstract paintings and collages to explore social consciousness, community life, rituals and the cultural legacy of the African Diaspora, particularly in her jazz-inspired series. unitedhaitianartists.com
- Jacques Auguste Toussaint
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, at a very young age he became interested in painting. A Current resident of Quebec, he has participated in many art expositions in Canada, the United States, and Europe and Haiti. He draws his inspiration from his home country using the people and scenery. Complete stories are told in the oil paintings that he creates, mostly by the purity of color and the realistic nature captured in the eyes of his subjects. The paintings of Jacques Toussaint pay homage to man and womankind; always smiling, and optimistic, willing to share his inner joy with the world. This artist takes it upon himself to find wonderment in everything. We can look upon his work as a therapy for the soul.
- Alexandra Antoine – Painting and Prints.
My current work focuses on portraiture and the visual representation of languages of the African diaspora. My linear color layout signifies my tracing of ancestry and heritage and I use text in Creole to showcase my native tongue, drawing from stylistic representations found around the city of Port-Au-Prince and Leogane, Haiti, specifically on “tap-tap” buses. I combine reconfigured Mud Cloth and Vévé symbols from Mali and Haiti respectively that are representative of my subjects personality and life experiences. http://www.alexandraantoine.com
- Fritz Millvoix — Painting.
Fritz Millevoix was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1957 and began painting at the age of 14. Despite his four years of formal training, he prefers to work in the so-called naïve or primitive style. Mr. Millevoix has had exhibitions in Italy, Germany, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. In the United States he has shown in New York, Philadelphia, Florida, Atlanta, Chicago and now Cleveland. He has received numerous awards as well as illustrated several children’s books.His paintings are alive with a brilliance of color, pattern and meticulous detail. His color spectrum is broad and rich with jungle themes full of colorful animals, mountain village scenes, underwater mermaid villages, Caribbean beach scenes and landscapes of depth and mystique. Every scene depicted in a Millevoix’s paintings is lush with nature,joy, and fantasy.” Fritz moved to the United States in 1988 and currently resides in Chicago. https://www.hamoc.org/fritz-millevoix
Jean Yves Hector was born in Port-au-Prince in 1995. He started showing interest in drawing at the age of 6 and painting at 14. He attended College Mazenod Seminary. His paintings reflect different styles: Ecole de la beaute, cubism, scenery of the country side. He is a Great admirer of Van Gogh, Michelangelo, and Haitian international artist Tiga. He has a profound interest in the period of Renaissance and Classicism Art. http://jeanyveshector.wixsite.com/ and email@example.com
Award winning artist Nixon Léger (pseudonym Nix-On) is from Belle Anse, Haiti. The picturesque surroundings of his homeland calls him to the arts at a very young age. In 1998, he studies under Haitian art master Casimir Joseph honing and perfecting his artistic skills. He enters ENARTS with a full scholarship in 2000 and by 2003 he teaches art at the Mission Episcopal of Haiti, College St. Matthias (Cherudan), and at a number of other schools in Haiti. He also participated in numerous exhibits in Haiti. Many artists have muses, and painter Nixon Léger is no exception. But his muse—the plantain leaf—springs from the earth. It might seem like an odd choice, but for Leger, who grew up in Haiti where the banana-like fruit is a staple, it makes sense. “I fell in love with the plantain leaf as a child,’’ says Leger. “The leaves have different shapes and colors. I love when they grow long, then break and go back to the main trunk, starting over. It’s the cycle of life.’’Nixon truly believes in giving back to his community; over the years he has contributed to many programs and fundraisers and has freely donated his time whenever he is needed. He has participated in events organized in the US by the National association of black journalists (NABJ) , as well as abroad, namely Liberia and Haiti. He has a great passion for Art and truly believes that his Art leaves an indelible impression among visual art lovers. Nixon currently lives in the US where he continues to practice his art and works tirelessly to exhibit his work nationally.
I often consider myself as an “Artist Reporter” because of my ability to recreate some small but important details of life. As an “Artist Reporter” and Haitian immigrant, the Haitian life in “Batey: in the Dominican Republic” (Formerly Saint Dominque) captured my attention years ago. However, I was unable to express my feeling about this part of history that continues today and has become modern slavery. My love for my country and my fellow Haitians comes through strongly in my art work. Today it is a pleasure and a privilege to introduce you to: “Conversation in Batey Part 1” & “Celebration in Batey Part 1”About the Art Work: “Conversation and Celebration in Batey” are two examples of why I consider myself an “Artist Reporter” rather than a painter. My work neatly captures both the elegance and movement of Haitian people practicing folklore despite slavery. Significantly, all of the main figures in my Art Work are Haitian people living in “Batey” reflecting my deep belief in freedom, racial culture and pride. Like a good reporter, I am able to capture and not comment on the scene in anyway. I simply show what I see, but with great care and attention to details allowing my audience to discover the beautiful form of the human body through movement and expression.www.Kreyolart.com — TEL: 718-200-7677 — Email: firstname.lastname@example.org