Indian Spirits Facing Colonization, 2000

Zephirin, Frantz (Haitian, b. 1968)

oil on canvas
23 1/2 x 41 1/2 in.
Les Esprits Indien en face Colonisation

Indian Spirits Facing Colonization, 2000

One of the first paintings I purchased was Zéphirin’s “The Spirit of the Indian Facing Colonization.”  It features a Carib woman, with a Spanish vessel (“El Conquistador”) in the background.  Surrounded by wild animals, the chaos of colonization, the Indian wears the masque of red death, symbolizing the genocide inflicted on native peoples by the European invaders.  She has a cross violently inscribed on her forehead.  Around her face are numbers and the letters of the Roman alphabet, all signs of her forced acculturation.  Through a hole in her chest peers a darker face, the African who, upon her death, will take her place as the subjected laborer of the Spanish and eventually French colonial system.  This is a stunning allegory of the origins of the New World. ~ Marcus Rediker, Beacon Broadside, 2014.