Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Haitian Masters - Press Release - Haiti’s Art Masters on Display in New York, With Help from Hollywood - via Caribbean Journal

Press Release

Haitian Masters


March 9 - April 14, 2012


Edward Thorp Gallery is pleased to announce Haitian Masters; an exhibition showcasing the paintings of four self-taught artists never before shown together in New York. The work of Wesner La Forest, Peterson Laurent, Odilon Pierre, Bourmond Byron manifest their originality through a compellingly expressive visual language. This exhibit celebrates themes both universal and particularly Haitian; the rich cultural landscape of daily life in Haiti emerges, with its rituals and folklore, creating a detailed and poignant portrait of Haiti, its single-mindedness, resourcefulness and faith.

Bourmond Byron was born in June in Jacmel in the early1920's, the son of a general in the Haitian army, and died in 2004. Before he became a painter, he worked as a carpenter and ship builder, but a 1948 visit to the Centre d’Art convinced him to take up painting. He practiced occasionally as a dokte fe, or leaf Doctor (herbalist). He was also an avid follower of voodoo and often chose to paint ceremonial scenes in addition to scenes of Haitian daily life. Byron has been called the most romantic of the Haitian painters. Best known for his luminous blues and greens and the use of silhouetted forms, Byron created an otherworldly and mysterious atmosphere in dream like landscapes. His works are included in the permanent collections of the Musée d'Art Haïtien du Collége Saint Pierre in Port-au-Prince, the Milwaukee Museum of Art, and the Waterloo Museum of Art in Iowa.

Wesner La Forest was born in around 1927 died in 1965. Not much is known of this mystery man of Haitian art, though he is said to have been a carnival mask maker among other things before he came to the Centre d'Art. In the early 1960's, record has it that La Forest, who suffered from regular bouts of epilepsy turned up at the Centre d'Art produced a small body of paintings, and died suddenly during an epileptic seizure a year or so after his arrival. Years later one intrepid collector found a small stack of works in the basement of the Centre d' Art. His subjects were voodoo and his portraits hypnotic in their startling frontality. All are painted with an evocative forcefulness and expressive style, producing charged forms with a direct paint handling. Mostly small, painted on cardboard or masonite and rarely on canvas, his paintings are permeated with a mysterious power. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut and Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey.

Little is known of Petersen Laurent, who was active between 1940-1958, worked as a railroad blacksmith, and died at about the age of 70 in Saint-Marc. His name is often linked with the widely-celebrated acknowledged ‘Masters of the Haitian Renaissance’ a group spawned to a great extent by the creation of the Centre d'Art in the 1940s, His themes included scenes of American battleships and rural life, roosters with hens, fish and flowers with vases, often drawing on themes of voodoo and ritual sacrifice. His candid drawing style combined with a textured paint application produces a sensation of high detail, to his high-keyed color, often single file compositions.

Odilon Pierre was born in 1933 in Port-au-Prince died 1998. His father was a carpenter, his mother a merchant. Pierre began carving wood sculpture as a teenager then turned to painting. Mostly active during the 1980s and early 1990s, Pierre was a resolutely independent self-taught artist who shied from the traditional Haitian themes. His highly personal subjects included portraits, field workers, animals, flowers and peasant women all joyfully executed with an intimate connection to his materials, mainly small canvas's. Often he depicts crowded scenes verging on the symbolism, turning form into design, with a fresh and imaginative subtlety of surface. He dynamically managed to capture the profound richness and mystery of the Haitian connection to the soil. Formerly Pierre's work could only be seen at only one outlet, from his encased vendor's stall in the deep recesses of the fabled iron market in the heart of downtown Port-au-Prince.

The Gallery would like to thank Jonathan Demme for his collaboration and assistance in putting together this exhibition. A long-time Haitian art enthusiast and avid collector, Mr. Demme first visited Haiti in 1986 and has been a fervent advocate for Haiti through the years. He has embraced Haiti both through his films and his collaborations with Haitian writers and musicians. He has stated that the spirit and depth of Haitian art is something that transcends national boundaries, works that all can take pride in and derive inspiration from.

via Caribbean Journal by admin on 4/10/12
Above: from left to right, Wesner La Forest’s works (Photo: Edward Thorp Gallery)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
An ongoing exhibition at New York’s Edward Thorp Gallery looks at the work of four masters of Haitian art: Wesner La Forest, Peterson Laurent, Odilon Pierre and Bourmond Byron.
The exhibition, Haitian Masters: 1950-1980′s, which lasts through the end of this week, looks at the rich cultural landscape of daily life in Haiti; its rituals and folklore, its resourcefulness and faith.
It’s all thanks to Hollywood filmmaker Jonathan Demme, a longtime Haitian art enthusiast and avid collector.
Demme, the director of films including The Silence of the Lambs and Beloved, first visited Haiti in 1986 and has since become a strong advocate for Haiti.
According to Demme, the spirit and art of Haitian art is something that transcends national boundaries.
Byron, who was born in Jacmel in the 1920s, focused on ceremonial scenes of voodoo, in addition to portraits of daily life in Haiti.
La Forest, who was born in 1927, is something of a mystery man in Haitian art, who specialized in small paintings done on masonite — rarely on canvas.
Laurent, who worked in the 1940s and 50s and was a former railroad blacksmith, was one of the so-called “Masters of the Haitian Renaissance,” focusing on themes of rural life and drawing on themes of voodoo and ritual sacrifice.
Pierre, who was born in Port-au-Prince in 1933, focused on crowded scenes, managing to capture what the gallery called “the profound richness and mystery of the Haitian connection to the soil.”

Odilon Pierre, prior to 1986, Profile, Mixed media on canvas, 13.75h x 15.75w in.

Peterson Laurent, c. 1950s, Three Fish with US Battleship, Mixed media on masonite, 20h x 24w in.

Odilon Pierre, prior to 1986, Crowd Scene, Mixed media on linen, 23.5h x 19w in.

Odilon Pierre, prior to 1986, Two Couples in the Countryside, Mixed media on canvas, 15.25h x 11.5w in.

Odilon Pierre, c. 1985-1990, People and Animals, Mixed media on linen, 36h x 24w in.

Odilon Pierre, prior to 1986, Face, Mixed media on canvas, 20h x 16w in.

Odilon Pierre, prior to 1986, Clenched Fists, Mixed media on canvas, 24h x 15.5w in.

Odilon Pierre, prior to 1986, Red Radient Hand #1, Mixed media on canvas, 19h x 13.25w in.

Bourmond Byron

Bourmond Byron, c. 1960, Mystical Family Scene, Mixed media on masonite, 17.25h x 24w in.

Bourmond Byron, c. 1960, Man Resting with Pipe, Mixed media on wood panel, 19.25h x 23.75w in.

Bourmond Byron, c. 1958-1961, Village Sacrifice, Mixed media on masonite, 25.5h x 28w in.

Bourmond Byron, c. 1960-1965, Shop at Dock, Mixed media on masonite, 15.75h x 17w in.

Other Works from      EDWARD THORP GALLERY 

Judith Linhares Riptide
Picnic Rock, 2008, Oil on linen, 60h x 89w in.

© Courtesy of Edward Thorp Gallery

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