Prospere Pierre Louis (Haitian)
Prospere Pierre-Louis was born in Bainet, in the south of Haiti, on October 12, 1947. As a young boy, he did not go to school but did teach himself to play the drums and the violin. He assisted his father, a houngan (Vodou priest), in preparing Vodou ceremonies. At age 16 he moved to Port-au-Prince where he apprenticed as a barber for a time before working as a waiter at the home of Maude Robard who would in 1973, with the Haitian artist Tiga, organize a community of peasant artists, singers, dancers, craftspeople, actors and painters into a movement that was named Saint Soleil. Prospere followed his friend Maude to the community at Soisson-la-Montagne on the mountain above Laboule and eventually became the most prominent painter in the group. The Saint Soleil movement gained international recognition in 1975 when the French cultural icon Andre Malraux visited the community. It is said that Malraux was seated in a chair on a grassy knoll while the artists of Saint Soleil ascended the slope, encircling him, each holding a piece of their art. Malraux was blown away by the scene and immortalized the movement by featuring Saint Soleil prominently in his last book, " L'Intemporel." Saint Soleil disbanded after only a few years but five of the artists, Prospere Pierre-Louis, Levoy Exil, Denis Smith, Paul Dieuseul and Louisiane St. Fleurant reorganized into the group "Cinq Soleils". In cooperation with several French Cultural institutions, they opened a spacious and secure atelier in Soissons on September 23, 1989. Prospere was painting better than ever when he died prematurely of an asthma attack in November 1996.