Riche, Pierre–Louis (1954–   )


172. 'Une famille'
n/d (24x20)

   Riche began painting in his 20s as yet another student of Philomé Obin. His early works were those typical of a Philomé protegé: historical and daily–life scenes with exquisite detail.
   For 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 generally well–fed.)
   'Une 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.

     Rigaud, Vilaire (   –   )


184. Hurricane
c1999 (24x20)

Nothing known: just liked it.
   Actually, I did not so much like this painting as want it because it is so very Ha
ïtian. 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
c1980 (24x24)

   Next only to Charles Obas and Stivenson Magliore, Camy Rocher is the most tragic figure in Haitian art.
   A 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.
   I 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.

     Rouanez, Dieudonne (1921–   )


97. Coumbite_
c1986 (20x24)

   Rouanez is 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 Gérard 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.
   Coumbite, 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 d'Homme, Paris.

98. 'Agoué Royo'
c1986 (24x30)

           

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