Monday, August 27, 2012

Claes Gabriel: Konpa On Canvas

Vibrant colors, clean lines, abstract imagery, vodou reverences, the elements of some great Haitian artists. The creativity of Haitian has baffled and intrigued the rest of the world for centuries. That tradition continues with a great emerging artist named Claes Gabriel. Claes is pretty much like his paintings, linear, bright, and clean. He greets every one with a effortless smile, like Magic Johnson throwing a pass. "I'm Claes, what's your name?" Claes Gabriel is the son of famous Haitian artist Jacques Gabriel. His mother, Claire Yanick, understandably proud of her son, is also quick to show that great family smile. Jacques Gabriel was born in Port-au-Prince in 1934 and achieved much success before his death. By his recent exhibition in Baltimore, Maryland, his son is ready to continue the legacy. Just 23 years old and only 2 years out of Maryland Institute College of Art, Claes already show tremendous talent. He has already developed a style at such a young age. Many good artists spend their entire lives trying to create a unique style of expression.In his paintings, Claes "plays with elements of Vodou," a strong part of Haitian culture. Claes has been in the United States since 1989, but he has returned often to his homeland, "mwen retounen anpil." One of his trips to the ³basin de la Gonave" in Haiti inspired the element of water that is present in many of his paintings. He also "plays with la sirenne (the mermaid)" on some of his pieces. He also deals with racism and intolerance through symbolism. Claes does not characterize his art as "Black Art." He paints what he feels. His images are not only of Black folks, and Caribbean life, but are also of Asians, Jews, etc. "Prayers to the Devil," one of his strongest pieces, creates a surreal world of fantastic forms. "My work is a collection of symbols accumulated from my travels and childhood in Haiti. My father has always inspired me with his sense of color, line, and composition. My symbols together are snap shots of simple stories about people, love, and God." -- Claes Gabriel.

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