Displaying items by tag: art

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Art in the Caribbean

The Caribbean culture is an amalgamation of influences. Among the islands, the differences in their colonial and independence histories, economies and availability of dedicated institutions has resulted in a powerfully diverse range of work. Although artists from Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti have traditionally received most critical acclaim, there are plenty of undiscovered artists working throughout the region.


The Caribbean's true art history dates back to the rock art and body painting carried out by the indigenous Arawak and Taino Indian peoples. For many of the Caribbean countries, art in its more modern sense began when they became independent from their imperial overlords. For example, in Haiti, Henri Christophe encouraged the development of art in the newly independent country in 1807.

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Of the various forms of art, Caribbean literature has been widely studied and appreciated. Painting, too, has had its fair share of international renown. Less well known but nonetheless highly developed are the fields of sculpture, print making, performance and photography. In the past, some in the art world have differentiated between "high art" and "popular art," but this boundary is becoming increasingly blurred.

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Much Caribbean artwork is stereotyped as the work of "naïf" painters. This form of painting works at the primary level of the senses using raw, vivid colors and a composition that celebrates freedom of expression and spontaneity. Other forms of painting do exist, however. Modernist painters such as Lucien Price and Luce Turner used modern artistic theories in their interpretation of the local environment. Painters within the School of Beauty, such as Bernard Sejourne and Bernard Sejourne, used a dreamy surrealism to depict individual figures that highlighted individual development as opposed to a national consciousness.

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Renowned Artists

Bypass the often substandard paintings on sale in the Caribbean's many tourist traps and seek out established galleries, such as Habitation Clement in Martinique or Jamaica's national gallery. Keep an eye out for work by famous artists such as Thimoléon Déjoie, Wilfredo Lam, Colbert Lochard, Edouard Preston, Antoine Derennoncourt, Archibald Lochar, Numa Desroches, Philomé Obin, Petion Savain and Georges Ramponneau.

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Thimoléon Déjoie

Modern Artists

Seek out undiscovered artists by visiting the art schools and art departments of Caribbean universities. Many have rotating exhibitions where the students are able to show their work. The San Alejandro Academy of Havana, Cuba, was founded 1818 and is the oldest art school in the Caribbean. Up-and-coming modern artists include Jasmin Joseph, Lyonel St Eloi, Marilène Phipps, Marithou Latortue Dupoux, Pascal Moin, Fritzodt Antoine, Joselus Joseph, Odille Latortue, Pascal Smarth, Albert Desmangles, Essud Fungcap, Patrick Wah and Andre Dimanche.

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Vierge et Cochons by Jasmin Joseph

Category Arts and Culture

Experts have uncovered a vast array of mysterious pre-Columbian rock art in the caves of a remote uninhabited Caribbean island.

Archaeologists explored around 70 cave systems on Puerto Rico’s Mona island. The thousands of designs, created centuries ago, comprise the largest concentration of indigenous pre-Columbian rock art in the Caribbean, according to experts.

A paper, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, describes the incredible art in the labyrinthine cave network, spanning human, animal and “meandering” designs. While some of the designs are painted or drawn, others have been scratched with fingers into the soft walls of the cave, a similar technique to that used in the Palaeolithic rock art of Southern Europe.

“Most of the work we have identified in this scientific study is done during an intense period of indigenous activity in the caves between AD1200 and European arrival after AD1492,” explained Dr. Jago Cooper, curator of the Americas at the British Museum, who worked on the paper.

rock art cave

n an email to Fox News, Cooper explained that the indigenous population in the Caribbean likely numbered in the millions when Europeans arrived. “On Mona they might be described as Taino, a name given to the indigenous population living in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola at this time,” he added.

In addition to the British Museum, the University of Leicester in the U.K., the British Geological Survey and Cambridge University all worked on the cave project. Students from the U.K. and Puerto Rico carrying out dissertations in climate science, archaeology and history also participated.

The rock art offers a fascinating glimpse into Mona’s forgotten Taino population. As a result of European raids, most of the indigenous population on Mona is thought to have died or fled the island by the end of the 16th century.

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“Scientific analyses from the team have provided the first dates for rock art in the Caribbean - illustrating that these images are pre-Columbian made by artists exploring and experimenting deep underground,” said Dr. Alice Samson, lecturer in archaeology at the University of Leicester, who co-authored of the paper, in a statement.

Cooper told Fox News that the Taino people snorted a drug called Cohoba, which is the ground seeds of the cojobana tree, as part of their religious rites. While the drug was not necessarily used by the cave artists, it was likely used by their leaders, according to Cooper.

“Cohoba was a powerful hallucinogenic drug taken by Taino caciques (chiefs) or spiritual leaders to help facilitate engagement with the spiritual world,” he said. “We also know that caves are spiritual domains as the Taino have an origin myth that their people emerged from a cave called Cacibajagua.”

The paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science is the result of research undertaken between 2013 and 2016. The Mona fieldwork was funded by National Geographic.

Category Arts and Culture

Miami Broward Carnival - 2017


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