Life and Spirituality in Haitian Art: André Normil, Célestin Faustin, Gérard Valcin

André Normil (1934–2014)

André Normil was born in Port-au-Prince. He started painting in 1944 and joined Le Centre d’Art in 1951. He paints scenes of daily activities with humor and keen observation that feature the subtleties of Haitian culture, pedestrian life, history, carnival, and community celebrations. His work often includes depictions of Christian stories, such as Noah’s Ark and Adam and Eve’s paradise.

Normil is known for using large-size canvases to portray a landscape particular to Haiti known as dechouke—an agricultural term in Creole that means to remove roots and stumps from a land plot after its trees have been felled. For decades, Normil worked in a small room on the ground floor of the Galerie Issa on the Rue du Chile, in Port-au-Prince. He signed his paintings with three dots in a triangular pattern that identified him as a freemason.



Célestin Faustin (1948-1981)

Célestin Faustin was born in Lafond, Haiti. He was named for his grandmother, Célestina, a Vodou practitioner. She proclaimed that he was favored by the loa (spirit) Erzulie Dantor, who gave him exceptional artistic talent. Faustin developed a haunting, poetic style, earning him the title of “Haiti’s first authentic surrealist.” Many of Faustin’s paintings tell a story, real or imagined, in forests and farmlands. They capture rural activities like cattle drives and traveling merchants.

Rodman, Selden. Where Art Is Joy. Haitian Art: The First Forty Years. New York: Ruggles de Latour, 1988. 45 and 171