Thursday, November 29

On Display: Kafou - Haiti, Art and Vodou at Nottingham Contemporary


Nottingham Contemporary, based in Nottingham's historic Lace Market is one of the UK's largest art centres. The gallery opened in November 2009 with an exhibition on David Hockney and Frances Stark. As well as a rolling programme of a three or four  exhibitions a year, the art centre also houses a cafe, shop, auditorium and education space. The gallery is also part of the Plus TATE partnership.

The Kafou exhibition, which opened in October, is one of the first UK exhibitions on Haitian art in a few years. With a mixture of paintings, sculptures, videos and textiles the exhibition fills all four of the gallery's exhibition rooms.
Haiti is especially known for the art of its urban and rural poor. The label “naive” has often been applied to it, but doesn’t do it justice. The imaginative power and visual intricacy of these artworks reflect the richness of Haitian history and culture. They are in sharp contrast to the country’s familiar reputation for extreme poverty, natural disaster and political violence. 
Hector Hyppolite

Andre Pierre, Simbi Rouangol, c.1950

Lwa, Prosper Pierre-Louis

As well as the selection of naive art, the exhibition also focuses on Vodou inspired art. Practised predominantly in Haiti, Vodou (not to be confused with Louisiana Voodoo) is a syncretic religion, which originated in the French slave Colony of Saint-Domingue in the 18th Century. The word 'Vodou' is descended from the Ayizo word referring to "mysterious forces or powers that govern the world and the lives of those who reside within it...". Followers/practitioners typically refer to themselves as 'servers of the spirits', whereas ritual ceremonies are described as a 'service to the loa' - 'Loa' are the spirits of Haitian Vodou (also referred to as Lwa or L'hwa).

Lwa in the Blue Bird, Prosper Pierre-Louis

Three Lwas and a Bird, Prosper Pierre-Louis



This is definitely my favourite exhibition that has been showcased at the gallery, since it's opening. I always feel that contemporary art by name itself can isolate audiences (and not many of the gallery's exhibitions have really engaged me - although I did enjoy the Alfred Kubin exhibition) but the sheer volume, variety, intricacy and history of so many of the pieces featured in this makes it incredibly appealing.



Agwe, Myrlande Constant

A closer look at the beadwork on Agwe.




Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou is at Nottingham Contemporary until 6th January.

More on Nottingham Contemporary

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(Apologies for the lack of titles/artist names. I visited during a lunch break and forgot to take notes!)

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