Art +Revolution in Haiti

23.09.18 – 04.11.18

Frieze Masters
located at the north-east corner of The Regent’s Park,
near the London Zoo. The postcode is NW1 4HA
03.10.18- 07.10.18

Somerset House
1-54 African Art Fair (STAND2)
03.10.18-071018

As part of its ongoing investigations into alternative art-makers of the 20th century, The
Gallery of Everything invites you to experience ART + REVOLUTION IN HAITI.
This immersive, three-venue exhibition will recall the moment in 1945 when Surrealism
descended on a former slave colony – and rewrote not just history, but art history.
To illustrate the story, The Gallery of Everything will display period artworks from le Centre d’Art d’Haïti – many of which have never been shown in the UK – alongside original material from the personal collection of André Breton, the founder of Surrealism.
ART + REVOLUTION IN HAITI will be the first time such an in-depth overview of the movement has ever been held in a commercial context.

THREE EXHIBITIONS

ART + REVOLUTION IN HAITI will open with an ensemble of period drawings, paintings, sculptures and films at The Gallery of Everything on Chiltern Street. Centred around an assembly of early cut-outs by the sculptor and metal-worker, Georges Liautaud, this dynamic retrospective will be a first introduction to the artists of le Centre d’Art d’Haïti.
As Frieze Week commences, the project will expand with a solo presentation of large-scale, figurative abstractions by the visionary painter, Robert Saint-Brice. Hosted by the 1-54 African Art Fair in Somerset House, the installation will coincide with a talk on Friday 5th of October on the impact of the movement, the role of Vodou and the legacy of Surrealism on Haiti.
The project will culminate at Frieze Masters with a survey of rare masterpieces by key influencers in the Haitian narrative. Foremost among them, the exceptional Hector Hyppolite – whose visualisations of Vodou spirits were championed by Breton, and who inspired Breton’s infamous collaboration with Marcel Duchamp: Surrealisme en 1947.
The project will begin in late September and then run through Frieze Week, and will continue at The Gallery of Everything on Chiltern Street until early November.

ART + REVOLUTION IN HAITI is held in association with le Centre d’Art d’Haïti (www.lecentredart.org).

Haitian painting will drink the blood of the phoenix. And, with the epaulets of Dessalines, it will ventilate the world. André Breton, le Centre d’Art d’Haïti, 1945

ART + REVOLUTION IN HAITI

On the island of Hispaniola in 1791, a revolution began during a Vodou ceremony. An enslaved people conspired to overthrow their masters. By 1804, Haiti had become the world’s first Black Republic – and the first colony to liberate itself from the terrors of slavery.

In December 1945, the Parisian writer and thinker, André Breton, landed in Haiti for an exhibition by Cuban painter, Wifredo Lam. The founder of Surrealism had been invited to give a series of lectures, which would in turn incite the student intelligentsia to revolution.

He was a welcome invader. Post-Negritude writers in the region looked to Surrealism for inspiration. For literary figures like Aimé Césaire and René Depestre, Breton’s anti-imperialist stance was critical to the conceptualisation of the emerging cultural identity.

Keen to explore the role of myth in society, Breton’s primary interest was to attend Vodou ceremonies on the island. When fellow surrealist and French cultural attaché, Pierre Mabille, encouraged him to visit le Centre d’Art d’Haïti, his position changed dramatically. For here he encountered a dynamic collective of self-taught artists, with practices spread across the country. The work was astonishing, it spoke of a new aesthetic. Best of all, it was fresh.

At its helm, Hector Hyppolite, the painter whose mythological canvases were executed with chicken feathers and spirit guidance. Supporting him were others, no less revelatory: Wilson Bigaud, the diarist of daily life; Castera Bazile, the instinctive devotional portraitist; Préfète Duffaut, the interpreter of sacred dreams; and Philomé Obin, the precise pictorial historian.

It was a visual revolution and its source: le Centre d’Art d’Haïti, the studio-gallery founded
by American educator, DeWitt Peters, with local poet and writer, Phillippe Thoby-Marcelin. The encounter would prove critical for both trajectories. For Breton it was evidence of a form of Black Surrealism. He acquired five works by Hyppolite and toured them across Europe.
As the movement caught a wave, exhibitions by the unschooled artists sprung up in Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna and Basel, in New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC. Advocates included Cuban critic José Gómez-Sicre and American writer Seldon Rodman. Others included writer Truman Capote, existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, filmmaker Maya Deren and curator Rene d’Harnoncourt – who had already acquired material for the Museum of Modern Art.

As the work entered private and public collections in museums across America and Europe, some saw it as an important African diaspora aesthetic. Others as so-called Popular Art. For a few it was indeed a Black Surrealism; and the connection with Breton seemed to concur.
Yet if the myth of a Black Surrealism is true, then it was born in Haiti long before Breton arrived; for it was located deep within the Vodou imaginary, in that profound and adaptable belief system which had succeeded in breaking the chains of slavery for an entire people.

THE GALLERY OF EVERYTHING www.gallevery.com

The Gallery of Everything is a commercial space for non-academic artists, private art-makers and other alternative creators.

An initiative of The Museum of Everything, the gallery engages with a wide network of institutions, artists and curators to place artists in private and public collections. The gallery’s roster includes major historical masters, as well as newly discovered authors. Events include group and solo exhibitions, talks, readings and happenings.
The gallery has been exhibiting at Frieze Masters since 2012 and opened its London gallery space in 2016. Exhibitions to date include Journeys into the Outside, an installation of environmental art-making in collaboration with performer Jarvis Cocker, and Le Foyer de l’Art Brut, a in-depth study of artist Jean Dubuffet‘s legendary 1947 project in Paris.

Proceeds from The Gallery of Everything help support The Museum of Everything, a registered UK charity and non-profit organisation, dedicated to the advancement, integration and celebration of artists and makers beyond the cultural mainstream.
THE MUSEUM OF EVERYTHING www.musevery.com

The Museum of Everything opened in London in 2009 and has welcomed over a million visitors to its large-scale installations in Britain, Europe, Russia, America and Australia.
As the UK’s leading advocate for non-academic and private art-making, the museum functions as an international exhibitor, archive and activist, collaborating with artists, curators, writers and institutions. These include Tate Modern (UK), Hayward Gallery (UK), Pinacoteca Agnelli (Italy), Kunsthal Rotterdam (Holland) and Garage (Russia).

The Museum of Everything remains a major influence on the inclusion and display of non- canonic art. It was closely involved with the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, during which it was also profiled in a BBC documentary, Turning the Art World Inside Out. Recent activities include a 2017/18 exhibition at Mona in Australia, featuring several hundred artists in the largest installation of self-taught art ever presented in the region.
The Museum of Everything is a registered UK charity and non-profit organisation, dedicated to the advancement, integration and celebration of artists and makers beyond the cultural mainstream.

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