Modern Haitian Art transforms the Common into the Extraordinary

The evolution of 200 years of Haitian art from naïve painting to surrealist interpretation through found objects is being exhibited at the Grand Palais in Paris. The theme Haiti: Two Centuries of Artistic Creation displays the work of such noted Haitian artists as Hector Hyppolite and Herve Telemaque.


Hyppolite, known as an excellent naïve painter, received high praise from surrealist movement exponent Andre Breton, who declared Hyppolite a surrealist. Breton became mesmerized by Hyppolite's artless expression in his work.

Herve Telemaque, a modern painter residing in France, gave tribute to Hyppolite with his painting Le Voyage d'Hector Hyppolite en Afrique. Its theme centers on religious iconography, immigrant beginnings, and infamous political leaders, with Hyppolite as the central figure journeying through history.

The exhibition wants to raise awareness Haitian art goes far beyond naïve art. It does so by focusing on the Saint Soleil movement. The movement began in 1972 when artist, Tiga, brought painting materials to farmers and builders living in the mountains overlooking Port-au-Prince. When French author, Andre Malraux, came to the artists colony he described the work as "the most striking experiment in magical painting in our century."

Port-au-Prince artists have found objects like junked cars, wheelchairs, tires, and other thrown-away items and turned them into transcendent pieces of art. No end of what the imagination can conceive escapes these modernists, who scour Port-au-Prince's environment for inspiration. They transfigure the poverty of the landscape into innovative and animated pieces of art.

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