Paintings 8-8-2010 050

  • year: 2008
  • artist: Préfète Duffaut
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • size: 14x 11

Préfète Duffaut was born in Jacmel, January 1, 1923.

As a child he helps his father who is a builder of « batiments », sailboats used for Haïtian coastwise traffic. He begins to draw on his own. Several months after the opening of the Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince in 1944, Rigaud Benoit and a group of artists go to Jacmel to look for new talent. The young Duffaut goes to them certain that his destiny is going to change. During the night he has a dream: the Virgin appears to him with outstretched hand perched on the summit of a mountain and she common him to paint his city-Jacmel. Worried about eliminating this celestial debt as quick as possible, the young Duffaut puts his mind to the task of reproducing Jacmel down to the last detail in the manner of Rousseau, who for his portraits took exact measurements of his models and transposed them on canvas with the help of a compass and a ruler. Duffaut strives to reconstruct a frantic reality: winding vertical streets and delicate and colorful houses constructed at the turn of the century that characterize Jacmel. Not leaving anything to chance, he writes on his painting the names of the buildings: school, customs, police, hospital. The effect is striking. His innate sense of composition, genius of colors and pictorial clumsiness make his first works masterpieces of naive art. One senses an awakening, or rather on effect of revealing something for the very first time. As André Derain says: « a true naive painting knocks you off your feet. » And to quote Anatole Jakowsky : « You don’t become naive, you are born a naive painter or you will never be one. It’s a gift like any other and it doesn’t count on profession, age or sex… In general the works of naives don’t reflect the painter himself; which proves one more time that everything comes from elsewhere… There is a mystery in naive art, a mystery that sooner or later will be cleared up; while waiting, I don’t find anything better to say except that these people are «  habité » charmingly possessed.

Duffaut like Hypolite, Benoit, Obin, Pierre Joseph Valcin, André Pierre and several others is a « habité » painter who contributes greatly to the pictorial Haïtian phenomena. Duffaut evolves over the years; his imagination is fed by new realities; his technique is confirmed: symmetry and linear and color perspectives push him towards new heights. In his satellite cities, cities pushing to hell or climbing to heaven, Duffaut plays with the law of gravity and the principal of resistant forces. Buildings and houses lose their identity and have absolutely no useful role. A symphony of colors and lines enhance the global architecture: urbanism of the imagination and the absurd. At times the sea level is higher than the level of the rivers; gigantic bridges are throw from one mountain to another with interlacing paths that form spirals rising all the way to the heavens.

For certain critics with a need to interpret everything, Duffaut becomes a dreamer who is conscious of the problems and  the scourge that are going to fall upon our overpopulated planet. In one of his latest paintings a group of shipwrecked peopled push and shove on the deck of a drifting boat; they grasp and climb along an immense cord coming from an ethereal city : satellite of hope, celestial buoy, the last chance to escape from our planet, apprehension of the survival of humanity by cosmic conquest.

Science fiction or simply the mocking smile of a shrewd countryman? Duffaut knows that luck is on his side. « Préfète Duffaut » in Creole means born prematurely and on top of that he was born « coiffé », with the placenta on his head, and in Haïti that means one of the gods elect.

Exhibitions
1974 – Flagg Tanning Corp., Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin
1978-1979 – Haitian Art – Brooklyn Museum, New York, Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin, Kunst aus Haiti, Berlin, Germany, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana
1982 – International Art Expo, New York, NY
1982 – Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania
1983 – Musee International d’Art Naif, Nice, France
1988 – Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, France
1990 – Exposition du Palais du Rhin, Strasborg, France
1990 – Mme. Mitterand, group show and auction, Paris, France
1992 – La Peinture Haitienne a La Rencontre de l’Image d’Epinal, France.
1992 – La Rencontre Des Deux Mondes Vue Par Les Peintres D’Haiti – Martinique, Seville, Rome, Paris, Nantes, Angouleme, Laval, Toulouse, Japan, Montreal, United States, Mexico
1997 – Selected to represent Haiti at the United Nations Building in New York for a group show.
2006-solo show for the 50thanniversary of the Gallery Monnin,Petionville, Haiti
Books and Catalogues
1965 – The Miracle of Haitian Art, p. 8, 55, 73-75, 87
1974 – The Naive Tradition: Haiti, pp. 30-32
1978 – Haitian Art, pp. 85-86, 99, 103, 138
1978 – Kunst aus Haiti, pp. 108, 117, 125, 149, 194
1982 – Art Expo: New York, p. 213
1982 – Three Generations of Haitian Art, (Cat. #13, 14)
1983 – Peinture Haitienne, pp. 24-25
1983 – Le Paradis Et Les Naifs, p. 44
1986 – La Peinture Haitienne, pp. 110-111
1986 – Voyage Au Pays Des Naifs, pp. 166-167, 169
1988 – HAITI Art Naif – Art Vaudou, 202-209
1988 – Where Art is Joy, pp. 45, 69, 86, 108-110, 128, 171, 174-175
1990 – Dialogue du Reel et de l’Imaginaire, pp. 19, 29
1992 – L’Art Haitien a la Rencontre de l’Image d’Epinal
1992 – La Rencontre des Deux Mondes Vue Par Les Peintres D’Haiti, pp. 260-261
1997 – Catalog of United Nations.

Permanent Collection
Milwaukee Art Center
Musee d’Art Naif de Max Fourny, Paris, France

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