Louissaint, Michel (   –   )


47. Landscape
c1979 (12x16)

   This early painting placed Port–au–Prince artist Louissaint in a group I call the 'semi–fantastiques.' Prêfète Duffaut may be the inspiration of the genre, though his own works stand apart. Others in my collection include Benito Auguste, Murat St–Vil, and Camille Torchon. There are many more, a few of them quite good.
   Louissant was one of the better 'semi–fantastiques.' His more recent work is not so good. It consists of market scenes — stylized, gaudily colored, and (to me at least) uninteresting. It owes something in concept, but little in technique or feeling, to Petion Savain.

     Louizor, Ernst (1938–   )


233. Self Portrait
_
c2001 (20x16)

 


234. Family Scene
c2001 (16x20)

 

   Louizor 'was born in Port–au–Prince in 1938. His painting career
began in 1951 when he joined the Centre d'Art and studied with
Wilmino Domond. Now considered [Haïti's] leading impressionist
painter ... [he has] many disciples…. Louizor has exhibited in Europe
and the U.S. and his works hang in many private collections
.'
     — quoted from www.haitian-art-co.com
   He is such a fine painter that, while naïfs are my chief love, I treasure
these realistic works.

 

     Magliore, Stivenson (1963–94)

 176. Symboles mystiques_
c1992 (36x24)

     Stivenson Magliore's is the most tragic story in the history of Haitian art. Only the deaths of Charles Obas and Camy Rocher rival it.
   Stivenson, or Stevenson (some claim he was named for the American statesman Adlai Stevenson), was one of two painter–sons of Louisianne St–Fleurant. Though he left the St–Soleil school early on, he continued to paint vodou scenes. But where most of the other St–Soleil artists evoke benign lwas and gentle scenes, Stivenson's gods are scary and his scenes violent.
   He attracted international acclaim in his mid–20s. He had little time to enjoy it.
   A political activist, Stivenson was an outspoken supporter of President Jean–Bertrand Aristide (then in exile, subsequently restored, exiled again, and now returned as a private citizen). Though the United States approved the artist's petition for political refugee status in August 1994, he remained in Haïti, hoping to witness Aristide's return — and also to recover a favorite painting he said had been stolen from him.
   In October, a couple of weeks after the American invasion, Stivenson was attacked in the street by neighbors — perhaps because of his political views, perhaps in retaliation for his charge that one or more of them had stolen his painting, and possibly for both reasons. Gravely injured, he ventured out again two days later, was viciously beaten, and then stoned to death. Stivenson knew that the world is a scary place

     Malherbe, Lenay (   –   )


63. Scène rurale
c1980 (20x16)

  Nothing known: just liked it.
  
I've seen a few other works by Malherbe in various galleries. All were distinctive, decorative, and interesting in their flat, two–dimensional presentation.

 

 

 

 

    Mentor, Louines (1936–   )


7. Scéne rurale
c1972 (48x24)

     Mentor, a native of St Louis de Sud, is a fine naïf. He's been extensively exhibited; but he's mostly ignored in books on Haitian art, though Eva Pataki's curious opus (see Reading) includes him. His works rarely appear in galleries, real or virtual, although I have encountered them occasionally online.
   Purchased on the recommendation of Néhemy Jean (see right), this painting has occupied a prominent location in each of the some dozen apartments and houses I've lived in the past four–plus decades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Evening with Néhemy

   During my first visit to Haïti, in July 1972, I did something I repeated on the next couple of my nearly two dozen trips. I asked a gallery owner I liked — and from whom I'd already bought something — to choose one of his favorites for me.
  
This work was selected by Néhemy Jean, a fine painter who billed his L'Atelier as 'the only gallery owned by a Haitian.'

   That was a bit misleading. Though the major galleries were owned by people of Near Eastern descent, most of them were either Haïti–born or longtime residents. (And the modern Haitian art movement's midwives, DeWitt Peters and Selden Rodman, were both Americans.)

   Néhemy's choice followed a surreal evening. 
  
My companion and I had invited Néhemy to dinner and asked him to pick a restaurant. He selected Chez Gérard in  Petionville, then — with La Lanterne — the finest in Haïti. He called for us at our hotel, the déclassé Castel Haïti (the one building in Haïti with an elevator) in his Chevrolet Impala.
  
We drove up the Rue Delmas in Néhemy's air–conditioned car … Mozart on the stereo tapedeck … passing hordes of unshod people plodding up and down the road in a vain hope of escaping the sweltering heat.
  
The meal was fabulous; we went bar–hopping when it was over; and I did not meet the real Haïti until my next visit, seventeen months later.

 

 

 

           

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