Klode’s bright watercolors and bleached ink are an adaptation of Tiga’s Soleil Brulé technique.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

The gallery Rio III is one of three galleries that are part of Broadway Housing Communities in Washington Heights. These galleries integrate opportunities for cultural activities into community housing.

The exhibition: Art Making, Celebration and Tradition From Tiga to Klode opened on Sunday, Dec. 13, on the 9th floor gallery at 898 St. Nicholas Ave. at 155th St.

Art Making runs through January and brings together father and daughter, 12 of Tiga’s works and 13 of Klode’s paintings, to the spacious light-filled gallery.

Multi-genre, internationally exhibited and collected Haitian artist Tiga was born Jean Claude Garoute. Tiga is known as a painter and the founder of the Saint Soleil art movement, paintings created by peasants living in the mountains above Prince-au-Prince, Soisson-La-Montagne.

He was also a dedicated teacher of art. He engaged children from all classes using clay, paint and drumming as art mediums in his “rotation method.” A visionary, he was devoted to beliefs in creativity. Beauty for him was the same as the surrealists, the descent of the marvelous among us.

“I share my father’s passion for art, people and nature,” says his daughter Klode, who turned to art in the late 80s, transforming her life in the art field and reconnecting with her father, who became her art mentor, at the same time.

The exhibition marks the 10-year anniversary of Tiga’s death, Dec. 14, 2006. Klode carries on and maintains her father’s legacy.

Continuing to create since his death, Klode uses but alters Tiga’s ink-based mixed- media techniques.

About herself, she says, “I discovered Klode, the conscious individual, creative artist and teacher. Today, I consider myself a conscious art leader, like Tiga, mindful of people’s welfare, community growth and development.” Klode also conducts workshops in his rotation method.

Art Making exhibits an early, personal work by Tiga, the 1978 colorful collage “Les Naufragés (Shipwrecked), which depicts the story of his teenage mom, Athonine Garoute. Unwed and pregnant and banished to the distant city of Jeremie, she attempts to return by boat to Port-au-Prince to have her child. Overloaded, the boat sinks, drowning many, but Anthonine swims for hours, saving her and her unborn son, Tiga’s life.

Klode says, “My father referred to this incident as a personal inspiration to be on this earth. It was his motivation and determination to work and create, to live fully to his full potentials, his destiny to do great things for self and others.”

A large 60” x 48” painting by Klode hangs on the gallery’s far wall. “I’m a free, expressive artist,” she says of the work, which is bleached ink and watercolors, an adaptation of Tiga’s technique. “People are attracted to the bright colors and it was observers who named it Angel.”

Several artists attended the opening reception. East Flatbush resident Samuel “Samo” Augustine commented, “I was influenced by the Saint Soleil movement.” He added, “Each of Tiga’s paintings reflect his culture. I was working with the same state-of-mind without knowing him.”

Paul Corbanese, president of the Toussaint Louverture Cultural Foundation, says, “Tiga’s work never lost sight of aesthetic values. He initiated a new technique called Soleil Brulé, which has been used by many artists. He exerted a great influence on the evolution of Haitian painting and contributed to the training of many Haitian artists.” His daughter Klode is one of them.

Tiga’s “Awareness,” his last painting.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

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