Leontus, Adam

About the Artist

ADAM LEONTUS (1923-1986) – Adam Leontus worked in many professions before he was able to earn his livelihood through his art. He joined the Centre d’Art in 1944, already an established painter of voodoo temples and designer of voodoo flags. He helped decorate the organ in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in 1963.

A quiet, sinister-seeming man, Leontus does not like to talk about himself or about his involvement in voodoo. He is one of the few Haitian artists who seems to make an effort to keep his professional and private lives completely separate. This desire for privacy is expressed in his choice of topics. Only in his earlier paintings do we occasionally come across a powerful voodoo scene leaning in content and feeling toward black magic. He paints instead still lifes and bird scenes. Distinctive for their elegance, these scenes are composed of the same parts in endless variations. Water-birds of all types, swimming or standing in their natural element, are framed by lush imaginary vegetation.

Leontus’s accuracy in the depiction of birds is remarkable. A hunter, he has obviously studied their appearance firsthand. The fluency of line and rich, quiet palette create decorative, harmonious pictures. Even though the artist does not like to reveal his inner life, these scenes nevertheless uncover a gentle side of his character deeply touched by nature and its beauty.

His work is included in the permanent collections of the Milwaukee Museum of Art, the Musee d’Art Haitien du College Saint Pierre in Port-au-Prince, the Waterloo Museum of Art in Iowa, the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History in Los Angeles, and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

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