Haiti has a profound history of revolutionary self-emancipation, based on the greatest slave revolt in modern history (1791-1804). The small island nation also boasts one of the world’s greatest folk art traditions. It probably has more painters per capita than any other place on earth. Haiti’s artists paint sheer wonder, as André Breton, leader of the surrealist movement in Europe, discovered when he arrived in Haiti in 1945. When he saw the paintings of the vodou houngan Hector Hyppolite, he remarked that by these astonishing works he recognized his own as abject failures.
I have long been fascinated by the history and art of Haiti, more specifically how the struggles of the Haitian people, past and present, have been recorded, remembered, and disseminated in their art. I also have a special interest on the historic fusion of the beliefs, forms, and aesthetics of Haitian vodou with those of French metropolitan surrealism.
Over the last twenty years I have collected Haitian art, concentrating on four main artists: Edouard Duval-Carrié (1954- ); Célestin Faustin (1948-1981); Jacques Enguerrand Gourgue (1930-1996); and Frantz Zéphirin (1968- ).
Works from my collection have been exhibited in the United States and Europe, including nine at “Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou” at the Nottingham Contemporary in 2012. Two of my paintings (by Zéphirin) will be exhibited at the Venice Biennale from April to November 2022.