On the occasion of pride month (May 2021), Foreign Agent is pleased to present a selection of works by Haitian cardboard painter Pierre Louis Herold. Pierre Louis Herold was born in 1996 in Port-au-Prince, the second of nine children and grew up in Grand-Rue, the rough downtown neighborhood of Port-au-Prince partially destroyed by the 2010 earthquake which still looks and feels like a war zone.
Grand-Rue is where the Haitian artistic movement Atis Rezistans (Resistance Artists) is based, centered around the master figures of André Eugène and Céleur. The leaders of the movement have been presented at the Haitian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2014. Grand-Rue has also become the site for the world's first aptly-named "Ghetto Biennale", possibly the only biennale set in a post-apocalyptic environment.
Pierre Louis wanted to become an artist like André Eugène who took young Herold under his wings. Herold joined the Atis Rezistans movement as a Timoun Rezistans (Child Resistance) which is mainly composed of Grand- Rue street kids and was thus able to showcase his work on site to the public - including many Westerners living and working in Haiti. He sold his first production at the age of 10 for 5 dollars and his work has stood out ever since, even within the mass of other artworks available. Since his humble beginnings, Herold has produced hundreds of paintings which populate his little cabin - the best pieces are hidden under his bed. Herold posts daily on his Instagram account and has gained quite a following over the years.
Pierre Louis Herold's faux-naïf and surrealist universe is influenced by Haitian voodoo, popular culture, art and politics, featuring people like Barack and Michelle Obama and his all-time favorites Basquiat, Picasso and Warhol - artists whose work he admires and portrays in hilarious combinations and scenarios. Westerners are often present in Herold's world, with rosy baby skin tones. Animals such as dogs, rats and birds also feature widely in combination with humans generating a very unique and strange storytelling both funny and tragic at the same time. Every work is accompanied by a small text written in Haitian creole then google-translated into English with often puzzling and incomprehensible results.
Herold works mainly on small cheap pieces of cardboard, usually 60 by 60 cm - "carton bouilli" which is used in Haiti to make carnival masks. He gets them from a dangerous part of town and has to hire gangsters to fetch his prime material. The cheap carton gives a crude finish to the works in line with the overall "raw vision" of Grand-Rue aesthetics.
For the current series titled "Pride in Port-au-Prince", Herold has used his imagination to create and construct his own idea of a gay universe featuring wild sex parties with XXL penises and rainbow flags, "gays from the future", a river party with banjo music, a trio doing karaoke dancing, an elongating penis with two dogs attached to it, gays with various disabilities and of course an ejaculating gay giant wearing a rainbow corona mask! Welcome to Pierre Louis Herold's surreal pride celebration!
Find out more about this show on Foreign Agent's Artsy profile.