Brilliant Caribbean Color And Tropical Light Shines Through 7 Haitian Art Styles
By Michelle Marks
Some Haitian art styles have regional themes while others emerge from religious beliefs. The most common forms of art are painting and sculpture; however, woodcarving, paper crafts, leather work, and other metal work is common as well. Haitian artists make use of bright vibrant color, giving their characteristic works a luminescent-like glow that come in many different styles.
The Neo-Impressionist style shares the beauty of island life with its viewer. This work includes both modern and traditional scenes. Paintings of this style include vivid and brilliantly colored still lifes, landscapes, and seascapes.
Originating in Jacmel, the south east region of Haiti, the Dream Landscape style includes paintings in greens, blues, turquoise, and hints of purple and red. These works depict the Haitian landscape and nature within it.
Focusing on daily life, the Haitian art Life style of painting depicts Haitians in daily and traditional activities. Settings include markets, weddings, maternity, and harvest scenes. This Haitian art style exemplifies colorful Haitian homes, clothing, city streets, and churches.
Emergent from Voodoo religious beliefs, stories of spirits are depicted in the Mystic style. Erzulie, The Goddess of Love, is typically shown with green or blue skin. Women painted in this way are said to possess deities charms.
Lush paintings similar in style to Henri Rousseau comprise the Haitian art
Animalist style. Animal paintings of this style provide interpretation of Haitian folklore. Other work depicts the Tower of Babel, Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, and crucifixion scenes. This style exemplifies catholic beliefs. Many believe the Garden of Eden existed in ancestral Africa; thus, works depict intricate and brightly colored jungles with an assortment of animals not found in the Caribbean.
Founded by Dewitt Peters in 1944, the Centre d'Art in Port-au-Prince, is credited for bringing the Naive Art style to the attention of the Western World. Early painters of this style include Castera Bazile, Wilson Biguad, Philome Obin, and Rigaud Benoit. Another painter well known for this style is Hector Hyppolite, a voodoo priest, who is considered one of the greatest natural painters of Haiti.
The Cap Haitian art style is named after the capitol city of Haiti. Cap-Haitian is famous for its gingerbread houses and New Orleans-like setting. Paintings in this style often include historic scenes and portraits. Cap-Haitian is the birthplace of Philome Obin, and many artists from this region cite him as their mentor. This style gives the viewer insight into the political turmoil that has gripped this tiny country for generations.
Finally, the recent earthquake, economic, and other struggles cause many artists to leave their country while others stay at home and create Haitian art that is sold to support their local communities. This emerging style is modern and fresh. Haiti has a proud and continuing art tradition worth learning about and supporting.
Fairhaven Originals Gallery offers some bright Haitian art created by the children of Haiti. All proceeds from the sale of this Haitian art goes directly to benefit the children.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.