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Haitian Collection

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Gesner Abelard
Haiti b. 1922
Chasses du Paradis (Expulsion from Paradise) 67.0001

Chasses du Paradis (Expulsion from Paradise)  67.0001

Gesner Abelard was born in Port-au-Prince. Before becoming a painter, he worked as a mechanic and then a detective. He also studied sculpture under fellow Haitian, Uberman Charles. Abelard joined the Centre d'Art in 1946 at the invitation of director DeWitt Peters, and began to paint. Although the Expulsion from Paradise is a common subject in Haitian artwork, Abelard's depiction is unique. The artist's use of a vibrant blue adds to the visual tension created by the severity of the situation in this biblical story. Abelard also demonstrates his characteristic mixture of various birds and foliage.

Gabriel Alix
Haiti b. 1930
Three Panel Painted Screen 69.0027

Three Panel Painted Screen 69.0027

Born in St. Marc, a coastal town and hometown of Hector Hyppolite, Alix is said to have been brought to Port-au-Prince and introduced to Le Centre d'Art by Hyppolite in 1946. Although he joined the Center, he continued to live and work in St. Marc along with his wife and son, also painters. Alix is one of many Haitian artists who decorate screens, boxes, and chests. His design for this three-panel screen is a stylized floral and vine pattern. Both the size and hinges indicate that this screen was functional, as well as decorative. Alix used a very similar floral motif on several painted wood boxes, also in the Davenport Museum of Art's collection.

Gabriel Alix
Haiti b. 1930
Two Wooden Painted Boxes 69.0028

Two Wooden Painted Boxes 69.0028

Gesner Abelard was born in Port-au-Prince. Before becoming a painter, he worked as a mechanic and then a detective. He also studied sculpture under fellow Haitian, Uberman Charles. Abelard joined the Centre d'Art in 1946 at the invitation of director DeWitt Peters, and began to paint. Although the Expulsion from Paradise is a common subject in Haitian artwork, Abelard's depiction is unique. The artist's use of a vibrant blue adds to the visual tension created by the severity of the situation in this biblical story. Abelard also demonstrates his characteristic mixture of various birds and foliage.

Evans Pierre Augustin
Haiti b. 1953
Le Roi Henri 1er, Le Baron de Vastey, 76.0020

Le Roi Henri 1er, Le Baron de Vastey, 76.0020

After the slave rebellion (1791-1804), several factions vied for power in Haiti. Henri Christophe, one of Toussaint L'Ouverture's generals assumed power in the north, becoming President of the northern part of Haiti from January 1807 to March 1811. He then assumed the title, King of the North (Roi du Royaume du Nord), a phrase that is written on his black and red flag. Christophe ruled over the northern half of the territory until 1820 when he suffered a paralyzing stroke. Afterwards, he took his own life. In Augustin's painting, King Henry I is seated on a white horse and enters the gates of his palace. Known for his two ambitious building projects (the Citadel and his palace of Sans-Souci) and for his establishment of order and prosperity, King Henry I published Civil, Military, and Rural Codes, many based upon English laws, which contributed to the stability of the northern territory for a time.

Castera Bazile
Haiti 1923-1965
Ceremonie de Mapou (Ceiba Tree Ceremony) 2002.0014

Ceremonie de Mapou (Ceiba Tree Ceremony) 2002.0014

Castera Bazile came into contact with the Centre d'Art through his work as a domestic servant for DeWitt Peters, the center's founder. Bazile quickly became a professional artist and had a distinguished, albeit short, career. In 1955 he won First Prize in ALCOA's Caribbean International Art Competition, and won the $1,000 First Prize in the 1957 Holiday Magazine competition. In 1962, at the age of 39, Bazile contracted tuberculosis and died a few years later. In vodou, the lwa (spirits) are closely related to nature and are believed to reside in springs, rivers, and trees. Sometimes vodou followers make pilgrimages and offerings to these types of sites to show their devotion to the spirits. Worship for Loco, the spirit of vegetation, is often associated with the worship of trees, especially the mapou or silk-cotton tree, sometimes called the ceiba. The towering mapou, one of the tallest types of trees in Haiti, is considered sacred. In this painting, a man climbs a mapou while other individuals watch. Offerings have been placed in the straw bag he carries, which he will then hang from the tree. The man in the foreground holds an ason (sacred rattle) that is used to summon the spirits. Other offerings have been placed at the bottom of the tree, including coins and a candle under a bila (tent). The man's makout (straw bag) and the miniature straw hats on the ground also associate this offering with Azaka, the spirit of agriculture. As in many other vodou ceremonies, drapo (ritual flags), and food (indicated by the two cocks that will be sacrificed) play an important role.

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