Robert St. Brice

1893-1973

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Robert St. Brice came, apparently, from a background of poverty and had no schooling at all.  Accepting all sorts of jobs to survive, he reached the turning point of his life when he took the American artist Alex John into his house as a paying guest.  Fascinated by the act of painting, St. Brice followed John's example.  He joined the Centre d'Art in 1949.  He was deeply involved in voodoo and claimed to be a houngan.

 

To St. Brice, the inner eye was all-important; he felt no need to depict the visible world around him.  He conceived of painting as a mystical act, perfect for the transmission of his religious convictions.

 

His images seem always in a state of transformation, appearing and disappearing like shooting stars.  The organic forms are only roughly outlined, ready to disolve into the void of the background.  Depending on the strength of his vision, the shapes can have expressive features such as eyes and mouth.  The eyes especially hint of voodoo; they are the eyes of snakes.

 

St. Brice's palette is varied but is consistently dark or bright within each composition.

 

Stebich, Ute.  Haitian Art.  Brooklyn:  The Brooklyn Museum, 1978