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Leroy Exil
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“Levoy” Leroy Exil (1944- )

I am Leroy Exil, known as Levoy. I’m a Haitian artist who lives in Thomasin, Sousen, Montagne. I started painting in 1969.

I used to be a contruction worker. I was working for a very famous artist, known as Tiga (Jean Claude Garoute) when he was building his house. I was laying the blocks and while I was positioning them, he said he loved the way I did it and that I was an artist. I said, “No, I am just a construction worker.” He said, “Don’t worry. We will talk later.” A week later he gave me two brushes. When I asked him, “Where are the paints?,”, he said, “Are you waiting for the white man to send you paints? Then you will be dead before you get them. Do as you want to give me some paintings.” To start I used local ingredients like beet, carrot, tomato, tomato leaves, charcoal, red soil, grilled black beans, indigo and manioc, which is a kind of yam we use, as glue. After I gathered all of these, I made different colors from them. My third painting (vegetable paintings I called them) was sent to France to an art show, and Tiga called me and told me I won the prize. That painting became the cover of a book by Andre Malraux

We are from the Saint Soleil group. Saint Soleil is like a university. You learn about life that will never end: even after the end, you are never gone. I’m not a poet or singer (Ed. note: Levoy is both. Listen to audio), but my paintings say it all.

Tiga was a great man. Now we are establishing a museum in his memory for him. In a few years everything will be ready.

I exhibit in many galleries in France, all over Europe, and in many art shows internationally. Arno Dubuiroy’s family and gallery in France is a great collector of my work. Every time he comes to Haiti, he comes to buy my paintings and to gather material for a book about me. He is sick now, so the book isn’t completely done. I will wait and make sure to see what happens. Someone else is also doing a book about me and creation. Creation is a continuation of life.

Saint Soleil –There is a song and a poem I wrote (Ed. Note: Listen to end of Levoy’s Creole audio to hear him singing it).

I teach Saint Soleil painting. I have a school for children also that I hold in my house. My daughter is their teacher, too. We have lessons in art, dance, singing.

In 1990 I went to Israel to represent Haiti, I also exhibited at the World Bank in Montreal. In 2000 I received a medal from Italy. In 2010 I exhibited at the Smithsonian Festival in Washington.

Saint Soleil is the name Tiga gave to the art movement. We didn’t know what to call it. From his house when he saw the sun rays come out, he said, “Look at the sun. How bright it is!” That is how Saint Soleil was formed. It is like breaking an egg and putting it on a plate. The white is there, the yellow in the center. You can go around the yellow, but you cannot take it away. You cannot take it.

Translated by Jean-Hugues Cauvin





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