Free exhibition of Haiti Vodou art

Until last night I knew little about Haitian art and culture. A visit to the opening of Nottingham Contemporary’s latest exhibition changed all that.

Most of this fantastic venue has been devoted to Kafou: Haiti, Art and Vodou and I walked from room to room marvelling at the vast collection which has been brought together and is available to us all for free.

It is the largest exhibition of such art to have ever been held in Britain  and it focuses on work by artists from the poor rural and urban majority and on work inspired by Vodou – or voodoo as it is more commonly known.

There are nearly 200 paintings, sculptures and sequin flags by 35 artists from the 1940s to the present day and they trace the representation of Vodou, reflecting Haiti’s historical experience through the supernatural.

Haiti is especially known for the art of its poor and the label “naive” has often been applied to it, but doesn’t do it justice. There is powerful imagination in these artworks  and they are in sharp contrast to how we think of the country today – somewhere with extreme poverty, natural disasters and political violence.

The exhibition is on until January 6 and as entry is free it has to be one of the best experiences on offer in the region at the moment. There are also many free talks, discussions and films which explore Haiti’s art, history and politics.

The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am until 7pm, Saturday 10am until 6pm and Sunday 11am until 5pm. For more details go to http://www.nottinghamcontemporary.org. The gallery is also on facebook and twitter @Nottm_Contemp