The Man from Martinique

Caribbean Painter Ernest Breleur (b. 1945)

Caribbean Painter Ernest Breleur (b. 1945)

I do not usually like modern art, but I make exceptions from time to time. Yesterday, I read Milan Kundera’s book of essays entitled Encounter in which he wrote about three artists from Martinique. There were two writers, Patrick Chamoiseau (whose novel Texaco I read and loved) and Aimé Césaire, and the painter Ernest Breleur.

When I think of Martinique, what comes to mind are the first Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall film, To Have and Have Not (1944) directed by Howard Hawks, as well as a horrendous double volcanic eruption of Mont Peleé in 1902 that killed over twenty thousand people. Then I read Patrick Leigh Fermor’s only novel, The Violins of Saint Jacques (1953), which was later turned into an opera by Malcolm Williamson.

Then Kundera added the names of Breleur and Césaire to my list. Thanks to Google image, it was easy to find some of Breleur’s work:




Breleur has something going with his dark blues, and his tortured human and animal figures. I’ll have to look for more of his work, and I’ll also have to search out Aimé Césaire.

Next on the list—I think you could see this coming couldn’t you?—I want to visit Martinique. I think I could talk Martine into it, even with her back pain. The sun seems to help her in some way. And, for me, Martinique is a growing nexus of interests, from the most powerful volcano in the Caribbean to the French culture to an interesting local culture.