Preview: Haitian Vodou Flags at La Luz de Jesus
This is one of the most exciting exhibitions this season–part of a perfectly conceived La Luz de Jesus Eastery show full of bright colors, skulls, religion, death and resurrection–a rare chance to view (and purchase!) Haitian vodou flags by the late master Antoine Oleyant. Oleyant, who died in 1992, moved the traditional sequined fabrics from religious utilitarianism into the realm of art. These flags and others are from La Luz de Jesus founder Billy Shire’s personal collection and were created during last, great, golden age of Haitian Vodou Flags: the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
Billy traveled to Haiti and purchased the Oleyant flags directly from the artist after a visit to his workshop. While Oleyant uses aspects and symbols from vodou, these flags are freer in their expression than temple flags as they were not made to be used in religious ceremonies. Liberated from those constraints, Oleyant creates portraits and symbolic representations of houngans (voudo priests), the guede (tricksters of the cemetery) and the loa (gods) that sparkle with fierce joy as the spirits are released into the world for all eyes to see.
Oleyant’s exuberant flags are balanced by traditional, ritualized vodou flags created by the legendary Vodou priest, Clotaire Bazile who died in 2012, and an older flag used in ritual by an unknown artist.
Also included in the exhibition, a beautiful beaded piece by Myrlande Constant who work was featured in “In Extremis: Death and Life in 21st Century Haitian Art” at the UCLA’s Fowler Museum, and in an recent exhibition at Brown University.
In the center of the gallery, ringed by the flags, are handcrafted Oaxacan memorial sculptures from Concepción Aguilar Alcántara, of the world-renown Aguilar Family of Ocotlán de Morelos. Decorated with colorful flowers, butterlies, snakes, and lizards, these figures speak of life, death and resurrection.
Candy colored dreamscape skeletons float and frolic in Charlie Immer‘s striking, surreal work hanging in the front gallery, with plenty of skulls recalling Golgatha/Calvary.
These colorful shows open Friday April 4 with a reception from 8pm to 11pm, and hang through April 27 at La Luz de Jesus, 4633 Hollywood Blvd.
Oleyant, Baron Guede
Concepción Aguilar Alcántara