Robert Beauvais’ art is based on Western imperialism, Haitian culture, including its architectural heritage, history, folkore, national production, and lays emphasis on the only revolution that challenged slavery, leading to the creation of the first Black nation. He employs different media such as painting, clay, collages, fabric, and paper to make visible the invisible.
Drawing inspiration from Jaques Louis David’s depiction of chiseled masculine features, Beauvais seeks to communicate the bravery of these freedom fighters, whose inspirational legacy lives on. He uses texture and color to create an emotional connection with the viewer and gets them immersed in the artworks through representations of epic scenes that convey leadership, unity, tension, and drama–all elements of the struggle that his people went through to break the yoke of bondage. A struggle Hatians continue to endure, as payback, under neo-colonialism.
Also found in the artist’s work is Hatian resilience and survivability. He employs the color red as a reminder of the price that needed to be paid for the freedom and emancipation of people of color, and the color blue, representing the wisdom needed to make it happen.
Furthermore, Robert addresses the issues of gender-based discrimination, social and economic classes, and how they affect people in his community. Sexism is generally pervasive in many societies and particularly in Haiti; Beauvais denounces it to pay homage to Hatian women, and particularly those who are illiterate and of humble condition for their great contribution in the country’s economy.
Ancestral malediction is heavily debated on the island and deep-rooted in the natives’ folk arenas; therefore, through personal experiences Beauvais taps into the realm of dreams, creating dark imagery about the supernatural, evil creatures and forces surrounding him to transmit his eerie feelings at night. The main point is to address the Western widespread beliefs about a cursed nation that had its origins in mysticism.
The theme of power also impregnates his work by the way he highlights what this highly sought after and coveted position can cause people to do in order to access it and even worse to keep it. He aims at showing the atrocities suffered by his people under U.S. backed dictatorships that took a heavy toll on the population. The goal is to shed light on these dark ages and the paramount need for his compatriots to stand up to any government that embraces authoritarianism and threatens their young and hard-earned democracy.
Dance is considered like the soul of the nation, and whenever the drum is beating–as the saying goes–many Haitians feel the rhythm taking over their body. According to the artist, dance is at the core of his culture because slaves from Hispaniola used to communicate through dance and this tradition still permeates almost every aspect of this community whether religious or secular. To better communicate this message, the artist uses imagery depicting gracefully executed choreographic movements along with black color to cause emotion, refer to the power and strength of black people, and white as a symbol of a new beginning.
1: Robert Alex Beauvais, Jean Jacques Dessalines , 2019, (Oil on canvas), 60 x 70 inches
2: Robert Alex Beauvais, Neg Mawon/Fugitive Slave , 2019, (Oil on canvas), 24 x 36 inches
3: Robert Alex Beauvais, Live Free or Die Fighting , 2019, (Oil on canvas), 24 x 36 inches
4: Robert Alex Beauvais, Citadelle Laferriere , 2019/2020, (Oil on canvas), 60 x 75 inches
5: Robert Alex Beauvais, Rhum Barbancourt , 2019, (Glass bottle, alginate, plaster, clay, paint), 16 x 9 x 6 inches
6: Robert Alex Beauvais, Cursed Legacy? , 2020, (Oil on canvas), 36 x 40 inches
7: Robert Alex Beauvais, MADAN SARA , 2019, (Wire, cotton, paper, fabric, glue, thread, plastic, nylon), 15 inches tall
8: Robert Alex Beauvais, Resilience Under Imperialism , 2019, (Wire, clay, paper, cardboard, glue), 9 inches
9: Robert Alex Beauvais, PAPADOC , 2020, (Foam board, cut out prints), 24 x 36 inches
10: Robert Alex Beauvais, Congo Dance , 2020, (Foam board, bristol, glue), 24 x 36 inches
11: Robert Alex Beauvais, CO-STAMPEDE , 2020, (Pencil, marker and crayon, on paper), 19 x 24 inches