The Airplane and the Tap-Tap
Magda Magloire (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
Acrylic on canvas (16 x 20), c.2010
In the Spring of 2014 we presented Onè... Respè!: Art from Haiti. The title comes from the traditional Haitian Kreyol call and response greeting. Onè!" calls the greeter, meaning "honor!" The response is "Respè!" - "respect". The exchange captures the essence of Haitian culture.
Indigo Arts Gallery celebrates the artistic genius and the indomitable spirit of the Haitian people, with a continually changing collection of Haitian paintings. We fell in love with the art and people of Haiti on our first visit twenty-eight years ago. While our focus is on artists actively working today, we also have a stock of paintings from the 60's through the 90's that we have collected in Haiti over the last twenty-six years or acquired from estates and collections. A sampling of the artists we may carry includes: Theard Aladin, Montas Antoine, Gerald Bruny, Gelin Buteau, Gerard Fortuné, Alexandre Gregoire, Jorelus Joseph, Gabriel Leveque, Dieuseul Paul, Gerard Paul, Manno Paul, Denis Smith, Louisiane St. Fleurant, Pierre-Joseph Valcin, Julien Valery, Jacques Valmidor and Wagler Vital. We also offer sculpture fashioned from recycled steel oil drums by such artists as Gabriel Bien-Aimé, Jacques Eugene, Serge Jolimeau, Janvier Louis-Juste and Michée Ramil Remy.
Doubtless the most spectacular Haitian art form is the sequin-covered Drapo Vodou or "Voodoo Flag". Vodou banners derive directly from the practice of the Vodou religion, a syncretism of traditional African religions brought to Haiti by slaves, with the Catholicism of their former masters. The banners are traditionally the work of practicing vodou priests and their followers. They are displayed in the vodou sanctuaries and are carried at the commencement of a ceremony. Each flag depicts the vévé symbol or image of the loa to which it is devoted. The flags are made of shiny silk fabrics to which have been sewn a brilliant mosaic of sequins and beads. A full-size banner typically contains 18,000 to 20,000 sequins and may take ten days to complete.
Among the more traditional practitioners of the art we show at Indigo Arts are Yves Telemac and the late Sylva Joseph . We have also exhibited the work of the late Antoine Oleyant, among the first artists to expand the bounds of the tradition and thus achieve recognition for his flags as sequin paintings in their own right. His work and life are featured in Tina Girouard's 1994 book, Sequin Artists of Haiti as well as the landmark exhibition, Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou. Other important sequin artists at Indigo Arts include Maxon Scylla, Mogirus, George Valris and the late Joseph Oldof Pierre. Exciting new artists include Myrlande Constant, Evelyn Alcide and Roudy Azor.
Our friend Nancy Josephson has published the definitive book on vodou flags, Spirits in Sequins: Vodou Flags of Haiti. It is superbly illustrated and includes by far the most up-to-date biographies of all the major (and many lesser-known) sequin artists.
Mariage de La Sirene et Agoue Vodou Banner (detail)
Mireille Delice (Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
Sequins and beads on fabric (43" x 45"),
We are also pleased to offer an extraordinary collection of vintage vodou flags and vodou bottles from the collection of the late Virgil Young. A large part of his collection is in the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA, and many pieces were included in the ground-breaking exhibition (and accompanying book), The Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou. Click here for the Virgil Young Collection
Indigo Arts Gallery celebrated the 200th anniversary of Haitian independence with the exhibition Masters of Haitian Art. For more information about that show click here.
In October and November 2008 we presented Drapo Vodou: Haitian Vodou Flags, an exhibition featuring many of the finest current and past artists of this dynamic medium.
Two important Haitian art events in 2009:
Haitian Art from the Collection of Jonathan Demme showed at FIAF in New York.
Through his films, his public stands, and his philanthropy, director Jonathan Demme has long been one of the foremost American proponents for the people and culture of Haiti. He is also one of the leading collectors of Haitian art in recent years. This was a rare opportunity to see selections from this fine collection. Jonathan Demme Collection: Inspiration of Haitian Art was presented from May 7th to June 13th, 2009, at the French Institute/Alliance Francaise , 22 E. 60th St., in New York as part of the month-long World Nomads: Haiti festival.
Mystical Imagination: The Art of Haitian Master Hector Hyppolite at the Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C., May 18th to July 5th, 2009 presented by the Haitian Art Society and the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
To coincide with the Hyppolite show, the Haitian Art Society held its annual Haitian Art Conference in Washington, DC (various locations) June 12th and 13th, 2009.
The Hector Hyppolite retrospective continued to two more venues - the Waterloo Center for the Arts in Waterloo, Iowa in the fall of 2009, and the Ramapo College Art Gallery, Ramapo, New Jersey, in March, 2010.
Read an excellent article on the state of Haiti's art following the Jan. 12th, 2010 earthquake in the March 18, 2010 New York Times: Out of Ruin, Haiti's Visionaries. It focuses particularly on the Gran Rue Artists, such as Eugene, Celeur and Guyodo.
The Passage of the Ghedes in the Cemetery
Frantz Zephirin: Art and Resilience - 2010 exhibit
In May and June 2010 Indigo Arts Gallery and art dealer Frank Giannetta presented Frantz Zephirin: Art and Resilience, the first US exhibit by Haitian master painter Frantz Zephirin since the January 12th, 2010 earthquake.
Frantz Zephirin is widely considered the leading contemporary artist working in Haiti today. A self-taught artist born in Cap Haitien in 1968, Zephirin has variously been described as a visionary, a surrealist, a visual satirist and an historic animalist. He has been featured in museums and galleries around the world.
After a very close call with the earthquake Zephirin immediately went back to work recording his visions of a violently transformed world. His painting, The Resurrection of the Dead was the arresting image chosen for the January 25th cover of the New Yorker magazine. Since the earthquake Zephirin has been featured in stories in the New York Times, Le Monde, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Times of London, the Guardian and the BBC - website and broadcast. During March through May, 2010, Zephirin has been exhibiting his work in the exhibit Haiti Art Naif: Memories of Paradise? at the art center Denkmalschmiede Hofgen in Gimma, Saxony, Germany.
For a June 3rd, 2010 article about Frantz Zephirin and the exhibit click here.
For a June 6th, 2010 review of the exhibit click here.
In the fall of 2012 we presented Haitian Art: Old Masters and New Visions, a selection of Haitian art ranging from the "Haitian Renaissance" of the forties and fifties to the response to Haiti's current state of affairs by such artists as Zephirin, Onel Bazelais, Mireille Delice and Serge Jolimeau.
In the Spring of 2014 we present Onè... Respè!: Art from Haiti. The title comes from the traditional Haitian Kreyol call and response greeting. Onè!" calls the greeter, meaning "honor!" The response is "Respè!" - "respect". The exchange captures the essence of Haitian culture.
More Recent Haitian Art Events
Haitian and Caribbean art fans and collectors attended the 2012 annual conference of the Haitian Art Society, meeting in New York from October 20th to 24th. It was a great chance to meet others with the same vice, visit some great art collections, galleries of Haitian, Cuban and African art, and see Caribbean: Crossroads of the World the three-museum Caribbean art extravaganza currently running at the Studio Museum of Harlem, El Museo del Barrio and the Queens Museum of Art.
Two other recent Haitian art events:
In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st_Century Haitian Art
at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
September 16, 2012January 20, 2013
"In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st_Century Haitian Art explores how leading Haitian visual artists have responded to a tumultuous 21st century, an era punctuated by political upheaval, a cataclysmic earthquake, devastating hurricanes, epidemics, and continuing instability. Consisting of approximately seventy mixed-media works by established artists and a rising generation of self-taught genre-busters, the exhibition offers unflinchingly honest and viscerally compelling reactions to Haitis contemporary predicament."
Catalog available here.
Kafou: Haiti, Art & Vodou
at Nottingham Contemporary, in Nottingham, England.
October 20th, 2012 - January 6, 2013
"We present a major exhibition of Haitian art, the UKs first for many years. Nearly 200 paintings, sculptures and sequin flags by 35 artists from the 1940s to the present day trace the representation of Vodou, reflecting Haitis historical experience through the supernatural."
Catalog available here.