Levoy Exil is a master Haitian artist and painter who was born in Fermathe in Haiti above Port-au-Prince’s mountains on December 7th, 1944, or in Soissons-la-Montagne on October 19, 1944, depending on which book you consult.
He was one of the original members of Saint Soleil, a community of peasant artists that was organized by the Haitian artist Tiga, and Maude Robart, a writer and painter herself.
Saint Soleil was located in the mountains above LaBoule, at Soisson-La- Montagne. It provided the means and encouragement for not only painters, but also poets, writers, craftspeople, singers, dancers, sculptors and musicians. The movement received international attention after the visit in 1975 of Andre Malraux, who was so impressed with the place that he devoted a chapter in his last book, "L'Intemporel", to Saint Soleil. Exil is also one of the five members of "Cinq Soleil", the group of artists that reformed in the late 1980's.
Peasants in a mountain community who had never painted before were given art materials in an experiment on spirituality, spontaneity and art. The results were astonishing, leading the French novelist and art historian André Malraux, on a trip to Haiti, to conclude that Voodoo spirits had possessed, and were guiding, the artists in the creation of the paintings. The movement received international attention after the visit in 1975 of Andre Malraux, who was so impressed with the place that he devoted a chapter in his last book, "L'Intemporel", to the Saint Soleil art movement illustrated with one of Exil’s artworks.
Exil began painting in 1972. He attended the Saint-Soleil workshops co founded by the famous artist Tiga in 1973. Exil is one of the best-known artists of the Saint Soleil School. Other famous students of the Saint-Soleil school are Denis Smith, Prosper Pierre Louis, Dieuseul Paul, and Louisianne St. Fleurant. (After studying the work of the group during a 1975 on trip to Haiti, Andre Malraux concluded Vodun spirits acted as conduits in the creation of Saint Soleil paintings the artist painting while possessed by the guiding hand of the spirit.)
Exil is a primitive artist who paints mostly Voodoo spirits or images from his dreams, wherein he looks for his true roots. He is one of the peasant artists who express themselves simply. His style is spontaneous and uninhibited and he makes use of shocking pinks and greens to color his strangely shaped figures. Levoy's work is very rhythmic. His compositions are soulful renderings of eyes, limbs, hair and snakes.
He has participated in many Saint Soleil exhibits and collaborated with Tiga and other artists in his group on a posthumous homage to Andre Malraux. He also created Fleur Soleil and exhibited at the World Theater Festival in Nancy, France in 1977.
Most of Exil’s paintings are mystical in nature. He constantly taps the sources of voodoo and looks for his true roots in his own dreams. He believes in reincarnation, is haunted by the story of Atlantis and relates to the memory of the Arawak Indians more strongly than to his African ancestors.
Exil's paintings are mystical and abstract and often depict Haitian Voodoo Loas (spirits), suns and stars, birds and doves. His painting style is primitive and dreamlike and employs the Pointillism technique of applying small, distinct dots in a pattern to reveal an image. There are rarely unused portions of the canvas in his works and he draws from African, Haitian and Voodoo influences.
His work is poetic, almost calligraphy of the inarticulate.
He has exhibited all over the world, and collectors prize these highly expressive works.
2011 : Un peintre sous influence vaudou, Maison du Conseil General, Beauvais, France
2010 : Festival, Smithsonian Museum, Washington D.C, USA
2009: Le dernier voyage d’André Malraux en Haïti, Musée de Montparnasse, Paris, France
2007 : David Barnett Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
2004 : Haïti couleurs, Haïti douleurs, Médiathèque de Nancy, Nancy, France
2002 : World Bank, Washington D.C., USA
2001 : Sak Pase, MIA Gallery at Miami International Airport, Miami, USA
2000 : Haitian Celebration, Museum or Art, Coral Springs, Florida, USA
1988 : Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, France
1987 : Where Art is Joy, Queens College CUNY, Queens, NY, USA
1986 : Villa Médici, Rome, Italy
2011 ; "Quake's toll on Haitian art, heritage and income". CNN. Retrieved
2000 : Jorgen Leth, Billeder fra Haiti-Images of Haiti, Danemark, Kunsthallen Brandts Klaedefabrik.
2000 :Haiti-Anges et Demons, Genève, Hoebeke/Halle Saint Pierre.
1993 : New York Times Article, An Influential Collector
1989 : Michel Philippe Lerebours, Haïti et ses peintres de 1804 à 1980. Souffrances & Espoirs d'un Peuple, 2 volumes, Port-au-Prince
1988 : Where Art is Joy: Haitian Art: The First 40 Years, New York: Ruggles De Latour, 1988.
1988 : Haiti, Art Naïf, Art Vaudou, Rome: Edizioni Carte Segete
1988 : Caribbean Art, New York: Thames & Hudson
1987 : QUEENS (NY). Queens College, CUNY.Haitian Painting: The Naives and the Moderns.
1986 : Jean-Marie Drot, Voyage au pays des Naifs, Suisse, Hatier.
1986:Ruggles de Latour, 18 novembre.
1986 : Haitian Painting: Art and Kitsch, Chicago: Adams Press
1986: La Peinture Haïtienne , Paris: Éditions Nathan
1976 : André Malraux, l'Intemporel, France, Gallimard.