56. Notre Dame et son Enfant_
193. The Flight to Egypt
Ismaël led a full and rich
life. An agonomist as well as an artist, he was also a political activist. He spent seven years
in prison for opposing the Duvaliers, Papa and Baby Doc. Even so, thanks to the popularity of his art, he died a
relatively wealthy man by the
standards of his homeland: his estate included a Volkswagen.
many Haitian artists, Ismaël found a 'formula' that worked and stayed
with it throughout his career. His formula derived from the art of the
Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire.
It was obviously a true interest — an inspiration — and not just a gimmick (as with
formula). Though most of his works reflected a Byzantine–like
appearance, he did not merely repeat himself. And while many of his
scenes are Christian tableaux, they usually include a bit of vodou.
(A vèvè, a drawing used in vodou ceremonies to invoke a
lwa — a god or spirit — appears in the upper right of 'Notre Dame.')
spent most of his
creative life in Deschapelles as director of an art center associated
with an American medical and religious mission. He
trained scores of students and exerted a poweful influence on artists
working in the 'Artibonite style,'
two features of which are elaborately decorated clothing and
has been exhibited worldwide and appears in most surveys of Haitian art
published since the 1970s.
Jean, Edouard (1954–2013)
76. Cap–Haïtien Scene
a fine naïf about whom I know little more than that he began
painting in 1972 as a student of
Sully Obin, a son of
was long the biggest painting in my collection, a distinction that now
Jacques-Enguerrand Gourgue's Garden of Eden. Cap–Haïtien Scene is also one of the more than 100 I checked from Haïti as 'excess baggage' on my
flights back from that country — in gallery– or jerry–built
cartons — and it is the only one that was ever damaged. The work
was squished horizontally into about half its width. A San Francisco
artist 'restored' it, though the work still shows evidence of its
Jean, Eugène (1950– )
42. Wedding Procession
among the best of the many painters who studied with
Philomé Obin. He works carefully and slowly; his lines are precise and
fine; and his use of color is exquisite.
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