Art
February 17, 2022

Community Spotlight: Pitit Tig/Children of Tigers A Group Exhibition of Haitian Artists at Leon Gallery

Tai Bickham

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Currently on view at Leon Gallery is a group exhibition, Pitit Tig/Children of Tigers, guest curated by Denver-based artist, Viktor El-Saieh, and featuring a celebrated group of Haitian artists such as Lissa Jeannot, Herold Pierre-Louis, Marithou, Hugue Joseph, Jacky Charles, Wildaine Charles, Ferret Charles, Mme Moreau, Viktor El-Saieh and Pierre Louis. The group exhibition features a collection of work from some of Haiti’s celebrated contemporary artists who share the history and stories of the rich nation through their artistry. 

On a lovely Sunday afternoon, my colleague Krista Lauer and I visited Leon and had the opportunity to speak with Viktor about the current exhibition and bringing Haitian art to the Denver art community. 

viktor el-saieh

How did the concept of Pitit Tig/Children of Tigers come about? 

So I asked myself the question, is there a context for Haitian art in Denver are people interested in it? And, of course, I love it, I'm super attached to it in my mind, so I'm like, of course, everybody's gonna love it, you know, but this was kind of a way to put context into Haitian art and see how it's received. So yeah, I thought maybe just the sample and introduction of contemporary, Haitian art painters that I really like or artists that I really like. 

artwork by Pierre Louis
image: Pierre Louis, Untitled. Currently on view at Leon Gallery.

How many artists are represented? 

There are nine artists, three of them are siblings, and me. So the textile artists are all siblings. And their mom, Myrlande Constant, is one of the most celebrated textile artists of our time. Denver seems to be into textiles a little bit too. So this is Jacky Charles and his older sister Wildaine Charles, and then there are two other textile Vodou flags by Ferret Charles, who's the older brother, and they all actually learned to create the textile Vodou Flags from their grandmother while also assisting their mother — Myrlande Constant. So it's like a generational thing.

Jacky Charles and Wildaine Charles textile vodou flags
image: Wildaine Charles and Jacky Charles, Vodou Flags. Currently on view at Leon Gallery.

What does Pitit Tig/Children of Tigers mean? 

Pitit Tig, Se Tig is an old Haitian Creole proverb translated to, A child of a Tiger, is a Tiger, or A baby Tiger, is still a Tiger. It can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. I titled the exhibition Pitit Tig/Children of Tigers because of these generational links between some of the artists. I can't resist also the more overt symbolism, but specifically communicating to Haitians. Like this woman is a woman from Haitian history. Her name is Catherine Flon and she was a real person who became a Haitian mythological character. There's a myth around her that when the Haitian revolution happened, the Haitian people gained their independence, and took the French flag, ripping out the white, and Catherine sewed together the blue and red together, and what is the Haitian flag, today. So for my work specifically, myth and folklore is like a guide for me. At the end of the day, I’m kind of obsessed with Haitian myth and folklore. 

Viktor El-Saieh painting
image: Viktor El-Saieh, Untitled. Currently on view at Leon Gallery.

Pitit Tig/Children of Tigers is beautifully curated, exhibiting Haitian history, spirituality, folklore, and depictions of everyday life with rich context to Haitian art practices. The exhibition is up through February 26, 2022, and visitors may schedule a time for a private tour with Viktor El-Saieh at leongallery.org.

Viktor El-Saieh was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in Miami, Florida. He holds a BA in International Affairs from Florida International University and an MA in Teaching Secondary Social Studies from the University of Colorado. El-Saieh’s work has been exhibited at Locust Projects, Miami; David Castillo Gallery, Miami; Central Fine, Miami Beach; and El-Saieh Gallery, Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, among other venues. El-Saieh’s work is part of the collections of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. He lives and works in Denver, Colorado, and is represented by Central Fine in Miami Beach, Florida.