Haiti’s Art, Outside the Box

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - July 24, 2012

Above: Jean-Baptiste Jean, untitled, Oil on Wood (All images courtesy Pan American Art Projects)

By Alexander Britell

While Haitian art rose to international prominence in the second half of the 20th century, a four-year economic embargo in the early 1990s presented serious challenges.

Now, Haitian art is beginning to recover its place in the global art scene and return to the consciousness of international collectors.

A new exhibit in Miami, one of the centres of Haitian culture in the United States, takes a look at a collection of Haitian masters working in a variety of themes.

“Outside the Box,” which is being held at Pan American Art Projects in Miami’s emerging Wynwood neighbourhood, features Haitian artists including Antoine Obin, Burton Chenet, Gerard Fortune and Jean-Baptiste Jean, among others.

Above: Etienne Chavannes, untitled, Oil on Wood

“A lot of these artists were artists that were well known back when Haitian art was popular before the embargo,” said Janda Wetherington, director of Pan American Art Projects.

Caribbean art in general has seen its profile grow in the United States in recent years, and several high-profile exhibitions have featured the region’s art this year, including shows at El Museo del Barrio and the Studio Museum in New York City.

Outside the Box honours this trend with a significant share of Jamaican art on display as well, including pieces by Jamaica’s Kapo.

“They’re divided thematically, instead of by country,” said Irina Leyva, curator at Pan American Art Projects, who has previously worked at the National Gallery of Jamaica. “If you look at this type of art in general, you’ll find common elements.”

Above: Antoine Obin, untitled, Oil on canvas

The thematic sections range from works of fantastical visions to scenes of daily Haitian and Jamaican life.

“What these artists do, is they reflect in their art on whatever they experience in their lives,” Leyva said.

Approximately 50 percent of the exhibition is Haitian art, with the remainder covered by Jamaican art and a small group of Cuban works.

Above: Kapo, Coconut Grove, 1985, Oil on wood

“It’s an interesting dialogue, to look at the way that different Caribbean cultures have approached this style of work, during pretty much the same time period,” Wetherington said.

Al of the work belongs to the permanent collection of gallery owner Robert Borlenghi, who acquired many of the pieces in the late 1980s and early 1990s during the heyday of Haitian art in particular.

Above: Jerome Polycarpe, untitled, Oil on canvas

Haiti’s recent art rebound came in part due to international awareness following the devastating earthquake in the country in January 2010.

“Especially after the earthquake, everybody started coming out and doing fundraisers, and Haiti got on the map on a more national level,” Wetherington said. “I think that it is starting to get a resurgence — it’s something that’s helping the living artists to be able to have some sort of forum again. I really think it’s the biggest resurgence since the embargo.”

Pan Ameican Art Projects is located at NW 2nd Avenue and 25th Street in Miami. “Outside the Box” runs through July 28.

Popular Posts

A.R. Carnegie, 74, Caribbean Legal Legend

A Caribbean Journal Editorial He was never a judge, never a Queen’s Counsel. His robes were never silk. But A. Ralph Carnegie was a Caribbean John Marshall if there ever was one. Ralph Carnegie, A.R. in scholarly texts, passed away […]

Robinson: Manatt Approached Government

Lackston Robinson, Jamaica’s Deputy Solicitor General, testified that it was the law firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, and not the Jamaican Government/Jamaica Labour Party, that made the first move to solicit a contract to lobby the White House, he told […]

IMF Back in Antigua on Performance Review

The International Monetary Fund has sent a team to Antigua for a third review of the nation’s performance on a stand-by arrangement with the IMF. According to the Ministry of Finance, the IMF team began the review Monday and will […]

Related Posts negril all-inclusive resorts jamaica

Jamaica Eyes Record-Breaking Arrival Numbers 

After a banner summer, Jamaica is eyeing a strong fall season that could catapult it to a new tourism record.  The island will have a total of 1.1 million scheduled airline seats this fall, the most Jamaica has ever had […]

Delta Vacations: Jamaica Leading Caribbean Growth 


As Jamaica’s tourism sector continues its recovery, the island has been dubbed the number one Caribbean destination for Delta Vacations in terms of growth.  The announcement, which follows the island’s double-digit growth in terms of demand, was shared during a […]

Jamaica, The Bahamas Plan Deeper Tourism  Collaboration

jamaica tourism bahamas collaboration

A new alliance is being forged between two of the Caribbean’s most popular destinations in a drive to develop a cooperative approach to air travel and grow regional tourism. Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett held talks with Bahamas Deputy Prime […]


Sign up for Caribbean Journal's free newsletter for a daily dose of beaches, hotels, rum and the best Caribbean travel information on the net.

No. Thank You