“The collective imagination of the Haitian population is where I find my inspiration – particularly in the beliefs, myths, and traditions that I find very rich and that need to be shared and preserved.”Shneider Léon Hilaire
The body of work presented in Rituals and Ceremonies by Shneider Léon Hilaire was produced between 2021 and 2023 at a time of a collective existential crisis in Haiti and more precisely, in Port-au-Prince, where Shneider lives. The inspiration for this work reflects the need of people living in Haiti today, while faced with threatening situations daily, to find meaning in healing and traditional rituals and beliefs even while they do not practice vodou. The work produced by Hilaire reflects a great deal of knowledge and attachment to these traditions that are uncommon to find in someone of his generation. Shneider’s work is shrouded in a veil that conveys images of a world where a separation between the living and the dead does not exist and where miracles are still possible. This exhibition is Shneider’s first in the U.S. The show is curated by Axelle Liautaud.
Schneider Léon Hilaire (b. 1990) is a Haitian visual artist based in Port-au-Prince. He began teaching himself the rudiments of drawing by reproducing cartoon characters at an early age, and later sharpened his sense of observation and reflection by making self-portraits. As Hilaire began to receive commissions, he decided to focus on portraiture. He became committed to art-making and familiarized himself with the techniques of realistic painting. In 2016, he registered at Le Centre d’Art de Port-au-Prince, where he developed his style and visual language with the training of internationally renowned artists, such as Mario Benjamin, Marie Hélène Cauvin, and Frantz Zéphirin.
Axelle Liautaud is a Haitian art historian and curator. She has collaborated with many museums on exhibitions of Haitian art, most notably, the Fowler Museum in Los Angeles and the Frost Museum in Miami. She has been the curator of exhibitions at the Museum of Naive Art in Paris (Halles St. Pierre) (1988), the Organization of American States in Washington (1999), and the Bass Museum in Miami (2006). Axelle has been a member of Le Centre d’Art’s Board of Directors since 1997 and became Acting President following the 2010 earthquake and the collapse of the Centre’s building. In collaboration with the Smithsonian Haiti Cultural Recovery Project, thousands of works of art and documents were preserved and eventually returned to the Centre d’Art following the earthquake. As president of the Centre, she organized the Piasa art auction in Paris (2017) and curated the Jasmin Joseph show in 2016 that opened in Port-au-Prince and traveled to various museums in France. Axelle stepped down from her role in 2021.