An important Haitian artist who lives in the United States. His work explores the cultural influence of Vodou in Haitian society, in addition to addressing political issues.
Duval Carrié was born in Haiti in 1954 to a comfortably well off, mixed-race family. As a child, he lived in Puerto Rico for several years when the family fled the François Duvalier dictatorship. In 1978, he earned a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in geography at LoyolaUniversity in Montreal, Quebec. He later took art classes at the National Superior School of Fine Arts in Paris. He lived in Canada and France, but in 1993 he relocated to Miami, where there is a large Haitian community. He was artist in residence at the Claude Monet Foundation in Giverny, France, in 1998 and at the International City of the Arts in Paris in 2000.
Like his Cuban colleague Manuel Mendive, Duval Carrié has probed the indigenous religious beliefs of his native island (in this case, Vodou) and its links to the African religions. His paintings clearly draw on these traditions as a reference point. Ayida Wedo, Mutant Bull and Mutilated Mutants, for example, represent supernatural forms that can be seen as the supernatural beings of the Vodou mythological pantheon. Like Mendive, Duval Carrié has created pieces that recreate religious altars (e.g., Endless Passage).
Duval Carrié’s palette tends toward brilliant colors and emphasizes pink and indigo. Little Crippled Haiti presents a pink feminine figure in a blue dress with wooden leg, cane and crutch. From her neck hangs a large tree trunk that splits into flowering branches, also pink in color.
One of the most characteristic elements of Duval Carrié’s pictorial work is the presence of ships in his paintings (Oasis, Altar of the Nine Slaves, Toussaint, son trésor à l’étang Caïman, etc.). Their presence is understood to allude to the artist’s situation as an exile. His perspective, it should be noted, is often more closely tied to the Haitian exile community than to the island society.
The artist has also addressed political themes in his works, especially related to the dictator Duvalier. In J. C. Duvalier en Folle de Marié, he shows the dictator dressed in a wedding gown, which could be a satirical reference to Duvalier’s sexual preferences. Mardigras au Fort Dimanche addresses the infamous prison Fort Dimanche, where the dictator imprisoned, tortured and assassinated hundreds of Haitians. Beside the image of Duvalier, the painter shows Baron Samedi, the deity of death in the Vodou mythology. Incident in a Garden shows seven soldiers with the faces of pigs, which has been interpreted as an allusion to the Tonton Macoute, a paramilitary group loyal to Duvalier. By comparison, paintings such as Toussaint planant show a victorious François Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture, the most important leader of the Haitian Revolution.
Author: Alejandro Carpio
Published: May 01, 2012.
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