Haitian art is the reflection of an amalgam of traditions and influences, highlighting the cultural, historical and ethnic miscegenation of the African root with the American and European ones; without forgetting an important religious influence of diverse nature.
At the beginning of the 1940s, the so-called naive art stands out, whose essence springs from the soul field of innocence and simplicity, with spontaneity, ingenuity and purity being three of its most outstanding characteristics. It is a term used to describe the pictorial, sculptural or architectural production made by a person who, in general, does not have previous artistic training so that in most cases, the artists “naíf” have been self-taught. His original works are sold to the highest bidder, in the art galleries of Port-Au-Prince.
It is made known after the Second World War and during the last 30 years, it became an important product of crafts for export. Among its greatest exponents are Bernard Sejourne and Rosa María Desruisseaux or also Tiga, Dambreville, Frank Etienne, Louverture Poisson, Philippe Dodar.
They also emphasize important schools of academic formation. As well as the school of the Haitian Cape (Cap-haïtien) whose costumbristas works reflect the daily life in the city; the school of Jacmel, reflects the top of the mountain with the coastal city below and the school of Saint Soleil (founded by Prosper Pierre Louis, a native of the town of Bainet) and the self-taught artist Tiga, characterized by its abstract style and strong Voodoo symbolism influence.
Haitian art is the expression of the idiosyncrasies of their culture. It reveals his way of being in everyday life and the intensity in the expression of his emotions. Express the pain, joy, suffering and resilience of the people. As Jean Price Mars described the Haitian people: “it’s a town that sings, laughs and cries.”
This way of being of the Haitian was what has characterized the colonial plantation, which was a space of dehumanization, of artistic and cultural creation. This creation contributes to the formation of Haitian culture that manifests itself in art, music, language, dance, literature, etc.
Painting has been one of the most important artistic manifestations within the panorama of Haitian art of all times. Fundamentally after the second half of the twentieth century there is an emergence of the so-called naive style which has turned out to be one of the most important references that identifies the art of Haiti worldwide. Many are the outstanding painters, among them are: Philomé Obin, Hector Hyppolite, Préfète Duffaut, Antonio Joseph, Rose Marie Desruisseaux, among others. Many have also been his followers because this style became so popular that the canvases, made as handicrafts, went out onto the street where they were exhibited in long clothes lines or hanging motley on the outer walls of large mansions offered for sale. However, at present, Several paths have been outlined within the artistic manifestations. In the first place, different expressive media have been incorporated and a new group of artists contributes a contemporary and original language which expresses, from various resources and interpretations, the social and economic situation of the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Even the early Expressionists and Surrealists were inspired by the exuberance and zest for life of these pictures and gave this art direction access to the most important museums in the world.
Again and again, the African roots of Haitian culture are discussed – the unforgotten original home of the black population. In the 17th century, Haitians’ ancestors were brought as slaves to Haiti, where they worked on the cane and cotton fields of the French colonial rulers.
This African origin is still firmly anchored in the collective consciousness today. All the myths and narratives, the religion (the voodoo) and, to a large extent, the social life refer to this significant African heritage.
The Haitian style of painting is reminiscent of the West African art styles, which already strongly influenced and influenced the European early Expressionists.
Although the dilemma of Haitian art could lie in the lack of materials or specialized education as a consequence of poverty, this is not the case. The great cultural wealth of this nation is expressed in his talent for artistic creation and one of his revelations is the art of recovery, in which artists use waste materials at their fingertips, whatever that may be. Beautiful reliefs with all kinds of figures, whether human or mythological have been created by Serge Jolimeau, Murat Brierre, Lionel Saint Eloi, in Croix de Bouquets a neighborhood of sculptors with around thirty workshops, Jose Delpe, Remy Jean Eddi from material from empty oil drums. This style, like naive art, has become so popular that it is also made as a craft and has become part of the ranks of the informal economy.