January 1, 2007
A New Year with New Hope
On this gloriously sunny and warm sub-tropical South Florida day, one cannot help but be hopeful for Haiti and the enduring talent of its fine artists. Though they face incredible hardships in a country of great political instability and scant infrastructure, the artists continue to create against the odds. They are compelled to exercise their creativity in new and exciting ways.
The newest “medium” within Haitian art is the recycling of rubber tires into wonderful mortal creatures. They are magnificent silhouette figures with facial features — eyes, nose and mouth — created from the negative space of cutting out the rubber. In many ways, these odd creatures convey a ghostly or otherworldly appearance perhaps related to Haitian Vodou, the dominant religion. What is obvious is how these rubber entities resemble the cutouts from another recycled material, flattened oil drums made of metal, by the late Georges Liautaud. He often employed spirits of Vodou including Baron Samedi with his top hat and bare feet. Discovered by the artist and art dealer Axelle Liautaud, the artists making use of this new form are channeling the cartoon character Caspar as much as the roots of their own religious culture. I own three, all bought from Axelle, and plan to group them on a wall. Slightly amoebic as well with their delightfully misshapen bodies, these figures connote the unseen world of Vodou spirits who work their way in the lives of all Haitians.
Haitian art never stops. It just transforms and keeps going. Savvy collectors pay attention to these revelations of talent. Let’s hope that fate is kind to Haiti this year — less violence, more order, more peace — and that there is a wider global appreciation of the art produced by the island’s legion of remarkable artists.
— Candice Russell