172. 'Une famille'
began painting in his 20s as yet another student of
early works were those typical of a Philomé protegé: historical and
daily–life scenes with exquisite detail.
one reason or another, he shifted focus. In recent years he's painted fat
people. He appears to have been influenced by Fernando Botero; Riche
denies even knowing the work of that Colombian artist. (Riche's fatties are nearly all mulatres,
so — whatever his inspiration — he may be
saying something about the one portion of Haitian society that is
famille' is a middle–period work. He's free of Philomé, but not
yet into les grosses patates. Among the many realistic touches in
this work is the smoke curling up from the man's pipe, barely visible in
the linked enlargement.
known: just liked it.
Actually, I did not so much
like this painting as want it because it is so very Haïtian. With all
their other problems, the people of this poor and tiny Caribbean nation
are subject to the most violent of storms.
(The work is featured, with credit, in a publication of the Harvard
School of Design.)
Rocher, Camy (1959–81)
62. Madonna and Child
only to Charles
Stivenson Magliore, Camy Rocher
is the most tragic figure in Haitian art.
student of Calixte Henry, Rocher first
attracted international attention when he was only a teenager. Then, on
a beach north of Port–au–Prince, the 21–year–old artist saw a child
flailing in the water. He dove in to rescue the youngster. Both he and
the child drowned.
bought this painting at a gallery in Kendall Lakes, south of Miami. I
wanted the gallery's other Rocher as well, but was unwilling to pay its
asking price. (Accustomed to 20–40 percent discounts in Haïti, I was
unhappy with the Florida gallery's meager 10 percent offer).
I returned a week after I'd bought Madonna,
ready to pay what the gallery wanted for that second Rocher. News of the artist's death had
just arrived; the price of the other work had leaped beyond what I was then
willing to pay.
As do many Haitian artists, Rocher
combines vodou and Catholicism — with vodou
priestesses here adoring Mary and Jesus.
a fine if highly stylized chronicler of Haitian life. He began painting in the 1940s and
achieved some acclaim. Two decades later, dissatisfied with his technique, he asked
Valcin for instruction. (I'm reminded of Ralph Vaughan Williams — already an accomplished
composer — asking his contemporary, Maurice
Ravel, for lessons in orchestration.) Most of
Rouanez's mature work reveals Valcin's influence.
however, suggests a bit of social commentary that would never have
occurred to Valcin. Looming in the background is a sugar refinery. The
reapers are colorful and real; the industrial
complex is gray and ominous.
Rouanez has exhibited
throughout the Americas and Europe and is represented in the permanent collection of the Musée
98. 'Agoué Royo'
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