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date: 09 April 2020

Pierre, André locked

(b Port-au-Prince, Jul 29, 1914; d Croix-des-Missions, Oct 4, 2005).
  • Dolores M. Yonker

Extract

(b Port-au-Prince, Jul 29, 1914; d Croix-des-Missions, Oct 4, 2005).

Haitian painter. A farmer as well as a houngan (Vodoun priest) in Croix-des-Missions, just outside Port-au-Prince, he began painting images of the loas (spirits) on the walls of shrines and on ritual objects. The American film maker Maya Deren persuaded him to transfer those images to panels and to join the Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince in 1949. Seeing no contradiction between the obligations of the priesthood and his work as an artist, he lived and worked in a tiny earth-floored hut adjacent to his temple. As a houngan, his first obligation was to represent the loas whom he served, clothing them in fancy dress resembling costumes of the 18th century. Although illiterate, he was in command of an abundance of Vodoun and Biblical lore and worked from dreams and meditation, believing that he received direct inspiration from his spirits; his loas were African in origin but totally Creolized. Explaining Christian legends in Vodoun terms, he saw the flood, for example, as the result of a pact between Damballah (the serpentine deity from Dahomey) and God, and the rainbows that appeared after the Flood as the paired rainbow pythons descending from Africa. Pierre humanized the loas, representing them with appropriate attributes, costumes, and gestures. He used oil paints, brushing in a solid background of colour over which he painted generalized flat shapes completed with a lacy white linear pattern resembling those drawn in flour on the ground in Vodoun ceremonies....

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