Wilson Bigaud was born in 1928 in Port-au-Prince. At seventeen he walked through the doors of the newly opened Centre d'Art in Port-au-Prince. With in half dozen years Wilson Bigaud would be among the leaders of the developing Haitian art movement. Under the tutelage of Professor Borno, and along with Hector Hyppolite, Philome and Seneque Obin, Prefete Duffaut and Castera Bazile, Bigaud would begin to turn the world's eye toward his work and his island.
His work took three first prizes in exhibitions organized by the Centre d'Art and the Foyer des Arts Plastiques in those first glory years, and his Paradis was awarded the second ribbon in a 1950 international exhibit in Washington, D.C. Paradis hangs currently in New York's Museum of Modern Art.
The products of his first years grace the walls of many distinguished halls, public and private, including of course the Episcopal Church in Port-au-Prince. Paradis and Enfers and Jardins Merveilleux are archetypical masterpieces of primitive Haitian painting that brought global celebrity to the era and the men-men like Jasmin Joseph and G. Valcin and Ph. Auguste and A. Normil. At this point Bigaud's health failed and he laid aside his brushes. The story of a very great artist could have ended here with his fame secure. Happily, it did not.
More than ten years later, in 1962, he began to paint again. Today, Wilson Bigaud is a walking legend in the full flourish of his second career. Though many remember him chiefly for those first works that called attention to Haitian art, it is for his current paintings that posterity will honor this man. Very few artists of any era have approached his ability to render the heat, the humor, the exuberance of everyday life that make Haiti so unique. There is a splendid paradox operative in his art; a carnal love affair with his land and people coupled with a cool observer's eye that catches and savors the small ironies of life.
The French painter Gerard Economos, who knows Haiti well, believes that twenty years from now the most accurate descriptions of Haitian life and times today will be found on the canvases of Wilson Bigaud.
Bigaud is rare among primitives in that he portrays real expression in his people. Yet it's this very detail that validates him as a prime witness of his epoch - so much so that an American art critic has stated, Bigaud is the Haitian Breughel.
Wilson Bigaud takes a walk in the country. His hand round a stick, straw hat on his head, he picks his way along the sugar cane paths. Here he stops for a laugh with a compere, here he stops for coffee in a dirt front yard with a commere. Not a detail is lost, not an image, not an attitude or an anecdote. And then he is home, and begins to sketch. As he fills, as he colors, he remembers how a head was raised, how a phrase was turned. In the quiet of the night he sleeps, the dark air drying the vibrant oils, settling the songs and the laughs and the plaints of one day in the life.
1974 - Flagg Tanning Corp., Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin
1978-1979 - Haitian Art - Brooklyn Museum, New York, Milwaukee Art Center, Wisconsin, Kunst aus Haiti, Berlin, Germany, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana
1981 - Sotheby Parke Bennet Auction, New York, NY
1982 - International Art Expo, New York, NY
1982 - Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania
1983 - Musee International d'Art Naif, Nice, France
1988 - Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, France
1990 - Exposition du Palais du Rhin, Strasborg, France
Books and Catalogues
1965 - The Miracle of Haitian Art, pp. 8, 53, 55-58, center
1974 - The Naive Tradition: Haiti, pp. 17-18
1978 - Haitian Art, pp. 61-63, 130-132
1978 - Kunst aus Haiti, pp. 65-66, 77, 80, 187, 189
1981 - Sotheby's Haitian and Latin American Paintings, Drawings and Prints, (Cat. #51. 60. 72, 81)
1982 - Art Expo: New York, p. 213
1982 - Three Generations of Haitian Art, (Cat. #11, 12)
1983 - Peinture Haitienne, pp. 22-23
1986 - La Peinture Haitienne, pp. 90, 94-95
1986 - Voyage Au Pays Des Naifs, p. 169
1988 - HAITI Art Naif - Art Vaudou, 70-77
1988 - Where Art is Joy, pp. 82-85, 104, 106, 112-121, 162
1990 - Dialogue du Reel et de l'Imaginaire, p. 29
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Milwaukee Art Center