Vodú and Surrealism 🌟 During André Breton’s visit to Haiti in 1945-46, the French surrealist leader sought to connect surrealist politics and automatist practices with the legacies of the Haitian Revolution and the ritual practices of Vodou possession. Recent developments in Haitian painting were central to his efforts, as can be seen from a comment that Breton left in the visitors’ book at the Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince: “Haitian painting will drink the blood of the phoenix. And, with the epaulets of [Jean-Jacques] Dessalines, it will ventilate the world.” Breton was specifically referring to the work of painter and Vodou priest Hector Hyppolite, whom he identified as the first artist to directly depict Vodou scenes and the lwa (Vodou deities), as opposed to hiding them in chromolithographs of Catholic saints or invoking them through impermanent vevé (abstracted forms drawn with powder during rituals). Breton’s writings on Hyppolite were undeniably central to the artist’s international status from the late 1940s on, but the surrealist readily admitted that his understanding of Hyppolite’s art was inhibited by their lack of a common language. Returning to France with multiple paintings by Hyppolite, Breton integrated this artwork into the increased surrealist focus on the occult, myth and magic. Geis, T. (2015). “Myth, History and Repetition: André Breton and Vodou in Haiti”. South Central Review

About Manuel Congo

A renowned Palero, Babalawo, Ajarn and Hougan, Manuel Congo lives in rural Italy, where he spends most of his free time touring on his custom Harley Davidson. An avid ethnographer and noted expert on Italian witchcraft, Manuel has spent decades working for elite clients around the world, conducting investigations in locales as far-flung as Togo and Thailand. He enjoys rainy days, BBQ and blondes.

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