Art from the heart of Haiti
Friday 30 April 2010
Scrap metal, second-hand shoes and skulls. These are the materials a trio of Haitian artists, showing together for the first time in London , use for their powerful work. Lherrison, who trained as an artist in a Port-au-Prince atelier under a voodoo priest, sticks coloured buttons on to circuit boards to create his modern collage versions of the flags used in voodoo rituals to summon spirits. His sculptures – horned monsters and chained, beaten-up dolls – undergo their own rituals before making it to the gallery. Having been buried underground, rolled in ash and doused in rum they are, finally, set alight.
Showing alongside Lherrison are André Eugene and Guyodo, mechanics-turned-artists and members of La Grande Rue group, which originated in the city slums and is now attracting the attention of Haunch of Venison, among other galleries. Some of their sculptures, made from twisted scrap metal, incorporate real shoes as a comment on well-meant, yet misguided aid from America, which sees Haiti inundated with impractical items ranging from stilettos to hiking boots. "The West dumps its rubbish on Haiti," says Eugene. "We take it, we transform it, we make it into art and sell it back to them to put in their living rooms." The art on show at the Jack Bell Gallery was created before the earthquake; now, the artists' studios have been flattened and materials are hard to come by. "They're all itching to get back to work," says Jack Bell, who has curated the exhibition with the help of BBC journalists sent to cover the earthquake and the photographer Leah Gordon. "But there's not a single person who wasn't affected by the quake in some way."
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