December 4, 2006
“Haitian Art Thriving in South Florida”
By Candice Russell
Last weekend was weekend number two of a four-weekend Haitian art extravaganza, a show and sale at my home in western Broward County. And what a spectacular weekend it was.
The 2006 Holiday sale of wonderful paintings includes work by the Saint Soleil masters like Prospere Pierre Louis and Louisiane Saint Fleurant, Etienne Chavannes, Wagler Vital, landscape genius Bresil, Pierre-Joseph Valcin, the late great Stivenson Magloire, and many other artists of renown. Vodou flag luminaries including Clotaire Bazile and Georges Valris are also represented with glittering examples of their exquisite workmanship and stunning designs. This year brought new items from Haiti, courtesy of my dear friend Lange Rosner, who finds art for me and sends it to me. Superb examples in unpainted metal include delicate little trees with birds perched in the branches — something I had never seen before. From small gift purchases like sequined and beaded eyeglass cases emblazoned with cheery hearts or fish to large paintings dramatically perfect for a living room wall, this year’s treasures are truly wonderful as local collectors discover.
Quite unexpectedly, one of my favorite artists came to town last weekend and visited my home during the Haitian art sale. Courtesy of a neighbor and friend, Haitian-born photographer Reynolds Rolles, the Saint Soleil painter Levoy Exil was my guest. The occasion for his being in South Florida, rather than in his home in Thomasaint, Haiti near Kenscoff or in New York where he also lives, was a sad one. Tiga, also known as Jean-Claude Garoute, is the founder of the Saint Soleil movement several decades ago and he is ill in a Fort Lauderdale hospice. Levoy Exil came to see Tiga and bask in his wisdom and the intensity that always characterizes their communication.
Exil brought a handful of very strong paintings that he had completed within the last several years. I purchased one for myself, a vivid canvas of a single figure — a winged angel — surrounded by the angularity of straight lines. These marvelous stripes are an ideal means of surrounding the angel. And the colors are heavenly — orange, yellow, pink, always outlined in Exil’s traditional black lines.
The artist also brought good news. For the first time that any of my Haitian friends can remember, the Carnival in Haiti next February will be themed. In honor of Tiga and the Saint Soleil movement of avant-garde contemporary painters, the Carnival is dedicated to both the man and the movement that elevated the status of Haitian art in the global art world. Exil is returning to Haiti on Tuesday to work on floats for the Carnival parade with several relatives. The only remaining Saint Soleil painter from the original core group — Denis Smith — is travelling back to Haiti from his current home in New York in order to also participate in the Carnival celebration. It’s enough to make reluctant tourists return to the beleaguered country in order to witness this extraordinary event. Unfortunately, three other originals in the Saint Soleil group have passed away, including Prospere Pierre Louis, Louisiane Saint Fleurant (who was the mother of Stivenson Magloire) and, most recently, Dieuseul Paul who died last summer.
Haitian art lovers are encouraged to contact me at Luluchat@aol.com for more information about my current show or to receive a free photo packet from me via the U.S. post office, tailored to your specifications. Catching on with more and more people, Haitian art is the wave of the future. Who knows what might happen next weekend at the show? Stay tuned.