Are you intrigued by the charming facade of a Creole Kaz*? Similar to a photograph, Alain André freezes time by creating miniature versions of creole traditional houses. As a true lover of the islands, the artist from Guadeloupe wishes to promote and raise awareness around the conservation of Caribbean architectural heritage through reproductions of these symbolic and authentic houses.
Creole Kaz* : creole traditionnal house
C – Who is Alain André? Where do you come from?
A – I lived in France all my youth, I was born in Saint-Claude in Guadeloupe, I spent my time in France with my mother. We lived in a bourgeois family in the 16th arrondissement, my mother was a cook. These are people who welcomed us very well, we spent our holidays with them.
I was in boarding school for a long time. My first jobs: delivery man, restaurant clerk, drawing plans, photography (which I was doing out of work). I’ve been micrographic for a number of years at the bank. Then one day I got tired of it, I came to Guadeloupe and for the first time in my life I had a flash: I have to go home. I needed it.
That’s what I did. I’ve had periods when I’ve struggled a lot. I took care of myself, I put my family aside. I isolated myself, I left my mother’s house: it gave me a strength that was not possible. I had a difficult relationship with my mother. I spotted cans, wood, started making kaz. I wasn’t thinking, it just came like that.
« We don’t have castles, but we do have kaz, in every commune. »
C – Why the Creole kaz as the main theme? What message do you want to convey through your work?
A – The message I want to convey is to have a more benevolent look at our homes. At the beginning of the dwellings, they were people who went to the forest to get wood, they had the technical knowledge to make their kaz. During the hurricanes, some left but others stayed. It is our heritage. We don’t have castles, but we do have kaz, in every commune.
Besides, I don’t like the image people have. Like it’s a shame to be in a Creole kaz. Once I was doing an intervention in a school, and I asked the children, “Who lives in a Creole kaz? “Few raised their hands, very timidly, their eyes running away as if it was a shame to live there and that it is better to be elsewhere. I think the opposite is true.
C – When did you start making Creole models? What are your main creative tools? What materials do you use?
A – I do recovery: cans, metals recovered from blinds. I recover from the fans on the roadsides, I used for example the feet of the latter (laughs). I collect scrap from a DIY store. I use the trash, I rarely buy. I have taken many pictures of houses that no longer even exist: I am 62 years old, I have been taking pictures since the age of 17. It is a source of inspiration for my Creole Kaz.
C – How does Caribbean culture influence you in your work?
A – I am a young student of the Guadeloupean culture, I try to immerse myself, I knew that it would give me strength. When I work on a facade, I look up and want to draw the Soufrière*. I like to start something and finish it. When I don’t know how to do it, I look on Youtube.
I have a rigor, if I work in the morning until 12:00, in the afternoon I take my camera to take pictures, I go out in the city. The Creole Kaze allowed me to enter my culture, negropolitan* okay, but negro first.
When I exhibit, people rarely ask me for my technique. They look at my pieces with their head full of memories, “Oh, yeah, you remember it’s like Grandma’s.”
negropolitain* : Personne d’origine antillaise vivant ou née en métropole.
A real favorite of the editorial staff. Alain touches us with his works, his words and his personality. With his creations, he makes us reappropriate the beauty of the cultural heritage that surrounds us. An original way to bring a piece of Guadeloupe back with you.
Follow Alain on his social media >
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