“In a time when we need to be more than we really are, Duval-Carrié’s bizarre images reference a tragic but familiar history of man combatting prejudice, greed, and unchecked power.”
Juxtapose Magazine, March/April 2005
Experience the vitality and splendor of the work of Edouard Duval-Carrié. Born in Haiti, Duval-Carrié studied in Montreal and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before moving to his present home, Miami. Divine Revolution, his first West Coast solo museum exhibition, presents works in various media—including new sequined renditions of his paintings of the Haitian Revolution of 1804, in the tradition of Vodou flags (drapo); a series of vibrant paintings depicting the migration of the Vodou divinities from Haiti to the United States; and an elaborate altar, representing the Vodou spirits “reinstalled” in this country. His work demonstrates the profound influence of Vodou and the complex cultural and political history of Haiti.
January 1, 2004 marked the two-hundredth anniversary of Haitian independence wrought by the revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture, and proclaimed by General Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the first President of the “Black Republic,” as Haiti is often called. To celebrate the occasion, the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, asked painter and sculptor Edouard Duval-Carrié to create an exhibition in the heart of Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital.
Born in Port-au-Prince in 1954 and trained at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Duval-Carrié makes his art in a studio in the “Little Haiti” district of Miami. He has lived in Puerto Rico and Canada and traveled to the Republic of Benin in West Africa, ancestral home of the divinities of Vodou (a religion and way of life in Haiti). His work in various media celebrates these divinities (lwa) and their role in the history of his country, especially the events of 1804. Though political upheaval interrupted the bicentennial exhibition in Port-au-Prince of Duval-Carrié’s work, he has recreated much of it and added to it for the UCLA Fowler Museum’s exhibition ‘Divine Revolution: The Art of Edouard Duval-Carrié,’ from Oct. 10, 2004 through Jan. 30, 2005.
His art reflects a mélange of African, European, and Caribbean influences, and encompasses multiple aspects of the Haitian experience, from religion to history to politics. Duval-Carrié’s works emphasize migration while celebrating the Haitian spirit and the durability and modernity of the Haitian Vodou gods.
The first section of ‘Divine Revolution’ is devoted to sequined and beaded flags based on the artist’s paintings of revolutionary themes, in the tradition of the shimmering banners known as drapo that are presented at the beginning of Vodou ceremonies to salute the spirits. These new Duval-Carrié works — commissioned from the atelier of one of the best known of Haitian flag makers, Jean-Louis Edgar — duplicate the earlier set of flags that he had made at the request of the Haitian government for the bicentennial celebration in Port-au-Prince. Duval-Carrié’s flags embody themes and an aesthetic similar to that of the ritual drapo, while speaking in a distinctly postmodern idiom.
The second and most extensive section of the exhibition features large-scale paintings by the artist, including three related works entitled Migration Trilogy — an exquisite group of paintings from Miami’s Bass Museum of Art describing the mythological trajectories of the lwa — and several more recent paintings that address contemporary political events. Many of the paintings are mounted in the artist’s intricately handmade frames, which contribute to the meaning system of the works through their rich and sometimes enigmatic iconography. The final section of the exhibition is dedicated to a new installation in the form of a luminous resin altar, and signals the rebirth of the lwa in their new diasporic settings.
Duval-Carrié’s work has been included in numerous museum exhibitions, including solo exhibitions at the Phoenix Art Museum (2002-3) and the Miami Art Museum (2000). His work is represented in the collections of the Davenport Museum of Art, Davenport, Iowa; Miami Art Museum, Miami; Musee des Art Africains et Oceaniens, Paris; and Musee de Pantheon National Haitien, Port-au-Prince, among many others.
Divine Revolution was guest curated by Donald J. Cosentino, a scholar of Haitian art and professor in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures.