When it comes to healthcare, many Haitians have access to only homemade herbal remedies, a notion captured by Ernst Prophete's painting Chez un Docteur Feuille. It shows a group of patients waiting to see a leaf doctor in what appears to be a rural emergency room that may double as a dining room. A woman who is nude from the waist up sits on a straw mat to receive treatment. While others await their cures, jars full of leeches and leaves soaking in liquid sit on a table. A man bleeding from his leg, his head hanging in anguish, sits on a picnic bench to the far right. Jacques Hyppolite's color-saturated oil-on-board piece, Reptiles andInsects (1979), portrays a vision of nature where butterflies are as ornate as lace, and giant emerald frogs and golden-armored crabs tangle for supremacy.
Demme's collection is a joy to discover and leaves a lingering impact. It's easy to see why he claims to be driven by a passion he calls "Haiti-mania." The director expresses a fantasy in which mankind makes a pilgrimage to Haiti, saying most visitors would also be bitten by the bug after one trip. A visit to his collection promises to turn the trick as well, provided you pencil in plenty of time.
Georges Liautaud's Winged Figure (1975)
Through July 23. Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park
Ave, Miami Beach; 305-673-7530