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Nottingham Contemporary to host Haitian art exhibition

The art world is about to get an infusion of new blood, or very old blood as the case may be, with the exhibition of Haitian art at Nottingham Contemporary. Since it opened in 2009, the contemporary art gallery has succeeded beyond expectations, and this ambitious new exhibit will undoubtedly bring even more attention and, hopefully, a whole new perspective on Haiti and its unique culture.

Most people have a vague notion of the country that goes no further than its violent history, continued poverty and recurring natural and political disasters. However Alex Farquharson, curator and director of Nottingham Contemporary, believes that though Haitian art is outside the boundaries of most art circles, it ‘speaks to’ many of the same interests and attitudes of more familiar artists.

The exhibition will include some 200 works by at least 35 artists; paintings, sculptures and sequin flags that embody the richness and vitality of this virtually unknown ingredient in the artistic landscape. Most is rooted in the dominant religion of Haiti, Vodou (Voodoo in Western parlance), a religion that is also little known and mostly misunderstood.

Vodou’s roots are in West Africa, with influences from Catholicism, Islam, European folklore and others. It involves a multitude of spirits called I was who interact with the everyday world, gods that are very personal and essential to the creation of Haitian Vodou art. There is intensity and colour and a startling vibrancy in these works; Farquharson said he hopes the exhibit will be “eye-popping, astonishing” on first look, and deeply affecting on further perusal.

The Haitian show is titled ‘Kafou’, which means ‘crossroads’ in the language of Haitian Creole and refers to the crossing of daily life with the supernatural, or the world of the living and that of the spirits. It is set to run from 20 October 2012 to 6 January 2013, and could serve to promote a much broader understanding of this mysterious and fascinating country and its people.

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