André Pierre
(1915–2005)

André Pierre, installation view, Benaki Museum—Pireos Street Annexe, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Stathis Mamalakis

André Pierre, Imamou (1970s, left) and Baron Samedi (ca. 1977, right), installation view, Benaki Museum—Pireos Street Annexe, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Stathis Mamalakis

André Pierre, installation view, Benaki Museum—Pireos Street Annexe, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Stathis Mamalakis

André Pierre, Untitled, ca. 1977, Benaki Museum—Pireos Street Annexe, Athens, documenta 14, photo: Stathis Mamalakis

Born in Haiti, André Pierre (1916–2005) lived in Croix-des-Missions at the outer edge of Port-au-Prince and developed his oeuvre as a self-trained artist and respected Vodou priest while also involved in agrarian cultivation. Drawing from the Vodou pantheon including Lwa (spirits of Haitian Vodou) such as Baron Samedi and Grand Bois, Pierre would often perform prayer and song while making his paintings. Vèvè symbols appear to leap from temple grounds into the midst of dense pictorial scenes, and ritual ceremonies are plotted in great detail in the midst of forests and ocean currents. In 1947, Pierre met filmmaker and poet-writer Maya Deren when she was filming Vodou rituals and dance in Haiti. Deren greatly admired his artistic approach and they soon forged a friendship. She went on to become an initiate at the Vodou temple where Pierre was practicing.

—Natasha Ginwala

Posted in Public Exhibition