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Koupe Fè: The Steel Drum Sculpture of Gabriel Bien-Aimé

November 18, 2021 to March 26, 2022

Gabriel Bien-Aimé was born in 1951 in the village of Croix des Bouquets, now known as the “cradle of 20th century Haitian metal sculpture”.  Croix des Bouquets nurtured such great Haitian sculptors as the late Georges Liautaud and Murat Brierre, the brothers Louisjuste, and Serge Jolimeau.  Bien-Aimé worked as an auto mechanic for several years before apprenticing to sculptor Janvier Louis-Juste in 1971.  Working on his own, he has become one of Haiti’s two leading sculptors.  Like the "first generation" artists, Bien-Aimé creates his sculptures by koupe fè (Kreyol for "cut iron") using hammer and chisel to cut the forms out of dwoum - oil drums which have been burned, cut open and flattened.   But he is renowned as the artist who broke out of the two dimensional plane, with objects - such as leaves and flowers - that project from the plane of the steel sheet, and others - such as fish and crabs - that hang from pieces of wire and chain.   While the work of most of the steel-drum artists is infused with the stories and symbols of Vodou, Bien-Aimé's stood out because, as a convert to Seventh Day Adventism, much of his work told the stories of the Bible (especially Adam and Eve).  He also delights in the stuff of daily life.  As the critic Selden Rodman wrote,  "part of his originality stems from an uninhibited sense of humor." 

Bien-Aimé’s work has been exhibited internationally, notably in the groundbreaking 1989 show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Magiciens de la Terre.  His works are in the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou, the Musée du Quai Branly, the Musée National d’Art Moderne de Paris, the Waterloo Museum, the Figge Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Le Centre d’Art, and the Musée d’Art Haïtien du Collège Saint-Pierre.  

His work is published in Where Art is Joy (Rodman, 1988), Forgerons du Vodou/ Voodoo Blacksmiths (Foubert, 1990), Magiciens de la Terre and A Haitian Celebration: Art and Culture(Stebich, 1992).

 In July of 2021, marking his fiftieth year as a sculptor, Gabriel Bien-Aimé participated in the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, NM.  The event fell only a week after the assassination of Hait's president.  In the state of siege which followed all of the airports were closed.  But the Port-au-Prince airport reopened a day before he was due in Santa Fe.  Gabriel arrived with all of his work crammed into two bulging suitcases, and he was able to hang his show - which sold out.  Since July Haiti has suffered an earthquake and a hurricane and most recently an outbreak of gang violence and kidnapping which has terrorized the country and brought the economy almost to a standstill.   Croix des Bouquets has been at the epicenter of the violence, and all of the artists working there are at risk.  Gabriel moved his workshop to a more remote village and has recently been able to visit the United States with some of his new work.  This collection includes a selection of recent works along with some early works from the collection of the late American artist Rudi Stern.

Fishing
SKU: GBA-2103

Croix des Bouquets, Haiti.
Recycled steel oil-drum (26” h. x 25” w.  x 7 1/2” d.), c.1989.
Ex. collection of Rudi Stern.

$1100

Deux Enfants (Children playing)
SKU: GBA-2301

Hinche, Haiti, 2022-23
Recycled steel oil-drum (34 1/2" h. x 14 1/2" w. x 3" d.),

$875

Man, Woman and the Face in the Sky
SKU: GBA-2303

Hinche, Haiti, 2022-23
Recycled steel oil-drum (34 1/2” h. x 18” w. x 3” d.),

I asked Gabriel if this represented Adam and Eve, but he said that since there was no snake in the sculpture it did not.  But I think that the guy in the sky may still be God.

$875

Grande Femme
SKU: GBA-2302

Hinche, Haiti, 2022-23
Recycled steel oil-drum (34 1/2" h. x 14 1/2" w. x 3" d.),

$775

Woman with Bird
SKU: GBA-2112

Recycled steel oil-drum (25" h. x 19" w. x 3" d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$750

Man and Spirit
SKU: GBA-2401

Croix des Bouquets, Haiti.
Recycled steel oil-drum (28” h. x 16.5” w. x 6” d.), c.1980s.
Ex: private collection

$650

SKU: GBA-2306

Hinche, Haiti,c. 2022
Recycled steel oil-drum (24 1/2" h. x 11" w. x 2" d.),

$395

L'Arbre avec Oiseaux
SKU: SJ-2302

Serge Jolimeau (Croix des Bouquets, Haiti)
Recycled steel oil-drum (23 1/2" d.), 2022-23

$375

Papillon (Butterfly in the flowers)
SKU: SJ-2304

Serge Jolimeau (Croix des Bouquets, Haiti)
Recycled steel oil-drum (23 1/2" d.), 2022-23

$375

Woman in a crowd
SKU: GBA-2304

Hinche, Haiti, 2022-23
Recycled steel oil-drum (24 3/4" h. x 12" w. x 3" d.),

$375

The Suffering of Christ (Christ dans la Souffrance)
SKU: MB-2301

(Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, 1938-1988)
Recycled steel oil-drum and steel bar (61" h. x 12.5" w. x 1.5" d.), 1977
From private collection.

Price on Request

The Angel and the Bird
SKU: GBA-2102

Recycled steel oil-drum (34 1/2" h. x 22 1/2” w. x 4” d.), c.1989.
Ex. collection of Rudi Stern.

On Loan to Exhibition "Haitian Metal Art" at SFO Museum 2023 - July, 2024

$1200

Product Status: 
Sold
Two Faces in the Vines
SKU: GBA-2101

Recycled steel oil-drum (34 1/2" h. x 15 1/2” w. x 3” d.), c.1989.
Ex. collection of Rudi Stern.

$850

Product Status: 
Sold
Dancing with Spirits
SKU: GBA-2117

Recycled steel oil-drum (35"h. x 17"w. x 4" d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

On Loan to Exhibition "Haitian Metal Art" at SFO Museum 2023 - July, 2024

$850

Product Status: 
Sold
Woman with Bird
SKU: GBA-9502

Recycled steel oil-drum (34" h. x 16" w. x 2" d.), c.1995

Exhibited at the Delaware Art Museum exhibit, Haiti: A Tribute in Art, from May 7 to June 20, 2010

 

$ 750

Product Status: 
Sold
Two Owls in a Tree
SKU: GBA-2305

Recycled steel oil-drum (23 1/2" h. x 23 1/2" w. x 2" d.), Hinche, Haiti, c.2022

$675

Product Status: 
Sold
Man with Birds
SKU: GBA-2119

Recycled steel oil-drum (34 1/2"h. x 17 1/2"w. x 3"d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

On Loan to Exhibition "Haitian Metal Art" at SFO Museum 2023 - July, 2024

$650

Product Status: 
Sold
Adam and Eve in Eden
SKU: GBA-2115

Recycled steel oil-drum (34"h. x 18 1/2"w. x 4"d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$650

Product Status: 
Sold
Adam and Eve in Eden
SKU: GBA-2113

Recycled steel oil-drum (34"h. x 18 1/2"w. x 4"d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$650

Product Status: 
Sold
Two Owls in a Tree
SKU: GBA-2110

Recycled steel oil-drum (35"h. x 18 1/2"w. x 2" d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$650

Product Status: 
Sold
Leaving Eden
SKU: GBA-2118

Recycled steel oil-drum (35"h. x 18 1/2"w. x 4"d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$650

Product Status: 
Sold
Two Birds
SKU: GBA-2111

Recycled steel oil-drum (34 1/2"h. x 17"w. x 3" d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$650

Product Status: 
Sold
God Watching Adam and Eve
SKU: GBA-2116

Recycled steel oil-drum (36"h. x 16 1/2"w. x 4"d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$650

Product Status: 
Sold
Up-Down Faces
SKU: GBA-2107

Recycled steel oil-drum (24” h. x 24” w. x 2” d.), c.1989.
Ex. collection of Rudi Stern.

$625

Product Status: 
Sold
Fishing Boat
SKU: GBA-2114

Recycled steel oil-drum (33 1/2"h. x 23"w. x4"d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$575

Product Status: 
Sold
Large Face in the Foliage
SKU: GBA-2105

Recycled steel oil-drum (23 1/2” h. x 25” w. x 2 1/2” d.), c.1989.
Ex. collection of Rudi Stern.

$575

Product Status: 
Sold
Goat and Bird
SKU: GBA-2108

Recycled steel oil-drum (23" h. x 23" w. x 2" d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$575

Product Status: 
Sold
Adam and Eve Climbing the Apple Tree
SKU: GBA-2109

Recycled steel oil-drum (36"h. x 18"w. x 2" d.), Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, 2021

$575

Product Status: 
Sold
Deux Sirènes
SKU: SJ-2307

Serge Jolimeau (Croix des Bouquets, Haiti)
Recycled steel oil-drum
(14 1/2" w. x 34 1/2" h.), 2023

$475

Product Status: 
Sold
Fleurs du Soleil
SKU: SJ-2303

Serge Jolimeau (Croix des Bouquets, Haiti)
Recycled steel oil-drum (23 1/2" d.), 2022-23

$375

Product Status: 
Sold
Le Vieil Arbre (Twisted Tree)
SKU: SJ-2305

Serge Jolimeau (Croix des Bouquets, Haiti)
Recycled steel oil-drum (23 1/2" d.), 2022-23

$375

Product Status: 
Sold
SKU: MRR-1001

Michée Ramil Remy (Croix des Bouquets, Haiti)
Recycled steel oil-drum
(23 1/2" d. ), c.2010

$ 275

Product Status: 
Sold