François Wendy paints his guardian spirits

François Wendy is one of the very young talented Haitian painters, who was mentioned earlier by his teacher Lesly Pierre Paul in one of my previous blogs. Wendy started painting in 2016 at the New Vision Art School in Port-au-Prince. The particular style of his teacher appeals to him and he likes to continue painting in this style.

Baron Samedi

Baron Samedi and Damballah Wedo by François Wendy, acrylic on canvas, 2019.

Like Pierre Paul, the student gets his inspiration from Vodou and nature. “But I’m not religious, I’m Vodou.” he says “I don’t have any contact with shamans when I paint. In my dreams I make contact with the world of the loas (spirits). Loa Baron Samedi has a special meaning to me, I always feel his presence when I paint him or the veves (symbols of the loas). The spirits often protect me during my life.” In this painting from 2020, Wendy portrayed Baron Samedi with the snake Damballah.

Baron Samedi is the guardian spirit of the realm of the dead and the graveyards. He usually dwells at the crossroads between the worlds of the dead and the living. When someone dies, he digs their grave, greets their souls after they are buried, and leads them to the underworld. He is usually depicted as a skeleton wearing a top hat and black tailcoat. This loa likes riotous parties, tobacco and rum. He is notorious for his outrageous behavior, constant swearing, dirty jokes and his pursuit of mortal women. His wife is loa Maman or Granne Brigitte, often depicted as a skeleton in a purple robe.

Like his fellow students Wendy is also very fond of Vodou: “I also really like the work of Shatty, Jeff and Ronald! Their work always makes me want to put in more effort and create beautiful works of art! I enjoy looking at Jeff’s painting entitled Granne Brigitte, the Guardian of the Graveyards. In this place we honor our departed loved ones with thoughts, prayers and the sacrifices we give with all our heart and soul.”

Ayida Wedo en Damballah Wedo

Damballah Wedo and Ayida Wedo by François Wendy, acrylic on canvas, 2020.

“I also feel a special bond with Ayida Wedo and Damballah Wedo, these are the loas of the healing power.” says Wendy. They are a powerful couple, usually depicted as snakes or as a snake with a woman. The colors associated with them are white and green, but in African Benin, where these loa originally come from, they see the couple as the snake and the rainbow.

Damballah is the heavenly father and the original creator of all life according to some Vodou communities. Damballah created the cosmos, heaven and earth. By shedding the snakeskin, Damballah created all the waters of the earth. Like a serpent he moves between land and water, awakening life, and through the earth, uniting the land with the waters below. He is benevolent, patient, wise and kind, but is above the tribulations of everyday human life. Damballah does not speak but whistles or makes a soft hissing sound. Wendy printed a series of t-shirts with the spiritual symbol (veve) of Damballah.

Art projects

François Wendy took part in a 2017 Universo Art Kids exhibition in Argentina in 2017. And in 2020 he participated in the FOKAL National Mapping Project. Wendy: “It was cool because this is the second time I’ve participated in an artistic project. I want to make a difference with other artists and make my work known around the world such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso. I would also like to visit some art galleries and museums in Europe and America so that I can get even greater inspiration.”

T-shirt with veve (spiritual symbol) of Damballah by François Wendy

In July Wendy would like to go on a study trip. “I will then visit some art galleries in Santo Domingo to study the difference between the artists there and my own style. Another style can help me in my artistic process, as our teacher Lesly Pierre Paul explained to us. The most interesting part of the trip is seeing the techniques of the Dominican artists and capturing everything I see. In addition, we also want to visit public buildings, the Los Haitises National Park Nature Reserve and the Conde in Santo Domingo. It will be nice to see these things with your own eyes.”

Like his fellow students, François Wendy does not have enough money to take the study trip to Santo Domingo. So we would ask you to please support the students and donate. Thank You!:

Read more articles about Haiti and this crowdfunding here.