Hector Hyppolite is considered the grand maître of Haitian art. At the age of 52, encouraged by the Haitian novelist Philippe Thoby-Marcelin, he moved to Port-au-Prince and joined the Centre d’Art, a cooperative founded in 1944 by the American painter DeWitt Peters. The Congo Queen shows Hyppolite’s deftness in conflating Haitian Vodou imagery and Roman Catholic iconography. The central figure, a veiled woman holding an infant on her lap, recalls portrayals of the Madonna and Child, especially the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in Poland. However, as the title indicates, the subject is Erzulie Dantor, the fierce protector of women and children in Haitian mythology. The deity, here shown with a stern gaze and flanked by a pair of wary seraphim, was among Hyppolite’s most popular subjects. To achieve the painting’s wide range of textures, the artist used brushes and chicken feathers as well as his fingers.
Gallery label from 2018