Haitian painter Préfète Duffaut, the celebrated artist whose long career was associated with the Centre d’Art, died on October 6 at the Hospital St Louis of Port-au-Prince. He was 89.
Duffaut, born on 1 January 1923 in Cyvadier, near Jacmel joined the Centre d’Art in 1948. He joined his vibrant talent to that of Hector Hyppolite and Castera Bazile to create some of the earliest masterpieces of Haitian naive art. In 1950 he participated in the creation of the frescoes of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, unfortunately destroyed during the earthquake of January 2010, with his “The Temptation of Christ” and “The Processional Road” (also referred to as the “Procession of the Cross“).
After the January 2012 earthquake, Duffaut chronicled the lives of those living around him with him in makeshift tents. ”My future paintings will be inspired by this tragedy,” said Duffaut, pictured above with Alta Grace Luxana and their daughter, in the tent the couple lived in after the earthquake. Known for his Jacmel-inspired “imaginary cities” (villes imaginaires), that often contain coastal elements with boats, Duffaut’s work also evidenced the strong influence of Haiti’s Vodou. His paintings are part of many major collections on Haitian art worldwide.
Prefete Duffaut is one of the most prolific and famous painters of the so-called “Primitive” or “Naive” painting tradition in Haiti. This mini doc (4.5 minutes) – http://vimeo.com/40673275 was produced to accompany the ground-breaking exhibit of Haitian Art at the Brooklyn Museum in 1978. Along with a dozen other mini docs about artists the videos were part of a video jukebox in the galleries with the art — a radical idea at the time. Several of these videos along with two other longer video docs — an Introduction to Haitian Art and a feature about Ra-Ra, an Easter festival in Haiti — are available on Gail Pellet’s archival website: gailpellettproductions.com