Highland Park • Pittsburgh, PA 15206 • 1-412-661-1498
A Gallery of Haitian Art

SINCE 1974

Agoue by Michel Sinvil 1978 (Detail)


This is Room 108. Haitian Art by Michel Sinvil

Paraphrasing Ute Stebich''s landmark book," Haitian Art", the catalog from the Brooklyn Museum show of the same name in 1978, Sinvil was born in Jacmel, Haiti in 1949. He moved with his family to Port -au-Prince when he was a child. After finishing school he earned his living as an auto mechanic and a tap-tap driver and also engaged in Carnival as a mask maker. He owes his initial recognition as an artist to this folk tradition. Carnival re-enacts traditional masquerades and also provides opportunities for creative spirits to invent new characters and costumes. Sinvil came to the attention of Pierre Monosiet in1975. After he was asked if he could also create sculpture, Sinvil embarked on his new career as an artist
In order to realize his ambitions , occasionally life-size sculptures, Sinvil was obliged to invent a special technique, he would create a mold of sand. pour the paper and glue into it and let it dry in the sun, then apply colors to the sculpture.

Ute continues " Despite a certain crudeness of technique, Sinvil's works are distinguished by an air of authority, evoking feelings of respect and awe.The originality of his composition, the boldness of form and design, and the purity and brilliance of color are at first shocking to the beholder's eye. Yet the strength of vision and energy, filled with mystery, commands the attention of the viewer."

I first bought from Sinvil in 1977, when he was living and working in Carrefour. I would drive to his house and pick up the sculptures, then make my way back to downtown P-au-P to find cardboard boxes large enough to accomodate them. The box vendors were set up a couple of blocks below the Iron Market, in a severely congested area where taking a car was problematic, so I had to walk a block or so, holding the sculptures over my head. The Haitians went bonkers as I came through the mass of bodies. Laughing and screaming, " Gade Blanc, li gen Agoue, li Gen Bossou, li gen Marriage" when I came with a giant bride and groom. Those were joyous moments.

#MSAG. Michel Sinvil
"Agoue, Lord of the Sea"
1978 $1800
details below