Sasha Tebo

Sasha Tebo

  • Biography

    Tebó was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where he began using encaustics at age five, when a visiting uncle brought him a box of wax crayons. At the age of nine, he moved to Montreal, Canada. During his teen years, he began encaustic painting.

    He received his French Baccalaureate from Collège Stanislas de Montréal in 1953. In 1954, he began is studies at the University of Miami where he studied architectural engineering and Fine Arts. Upon completion of his studies in 1959, he received a scholarship from the French Government to further his studies in architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. During his attendance, he subsequently painted while working in the architectural atelier of Bernard Zehrfuss and Marcel Breuer. He worked with them on L'Arche de la Defence and met Le Corbusier, who offered him a position to work on what was to become the first planned city in India, named Chandigarh. He turned it down, and instead married Rona Roy in Dothan, Alabama and returned to Haiti to start an architectural practice, which started with the construction of the tower for his family's Hôtel Castel Haiti.

  • Influences

    Tebó's abstract, symbolic, and figurative styles throughout his career bridged Pre-Columbian, Latin American, Afro-Caribbean, Postmodern American, and Contemporary European cultural influences. NYU's Chair of the Department of Art History and Latin American Art Scholar, Edward J. Sullivan, describes his work as "Hermetic symbolism."[citation needed]

    In his spare time, he painted in his self-styled contemporary technique at Issa El Saieh's home, who is also a Haitian native, alongside naïf and contemporary artists. He developed a friendship with artist St. Pierre Toussaint of Kenscoff, whose art he collected. He helped pave the way for younger contemporary Caribbean artists as they began to form an identity, and taught his assistants Arijac (Harry Jacques) and eventually Osnel Saint Ral the encaustic technique.

    The 1963 disappearance and subsequent death of his father-in-law at the hands of a Tonton Macoute (henchman of then President, François Duvalier), prompted him to leave Haiti for Miami and St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He was able to concentrate on his art, and in the early 1960s his paintings toured Europe with American artists, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Larry Rivers.

    In the early 1970s, he moved back to Haiti under improved political conditions, only to leave in 1987, when Haiti was again in turmoil. His move to Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Dominican Republic became his last.

    His work has been exhibited throughout museums and galleries in North, Central & South America, Europe, and most frequently throughout the Caribbean islands, where he could "island hop" with small canvasses inserted into larger ones for ease of transit. He did not consider himself part of any "school" although he had a philosophy similar to Carl Jung's "Synchronicity", which he thought transcended both time and place. Although contemporary with periods of figurative and abstract, he was influenced by the culture and history of the region.

    Like the rest of the Caribbean, Cuba, the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the American Virgin Islands were all inhabited by the Arawaks / Taínos, and Carib indigenous people, and it is this ideal unity that he depicted throughout his painting and sculpture contributing to the recognition of the Caribbean region.

  • Awards

    Tebó received the Best Foreign Artist award from the Dominican Association of Art Critics on behalf of UNESCO. Part of his philosophy was not to participate in juried art competitions, but to encourage and compliment fellow artists. He, along with Marie-José Nadal of Haiti and Paris, and Marianne de Tolentino and Danilo de los Santos of the Dominican Republic, received a collaborative grant from the Getty Foundation to research and write a book on the combined art of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The survivors of this project anticipate the printing of the book in the near future.

    Concerned for his fellow humanity and planet, he was active in reforesting Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In the '70's, soon after the Haitian government disapproved a hillside community in Turgeau that he had intended to develop, he wrote an article in the Le Nouvelliste entitled "Haiti en L'An 2000" where he stressed the importance of infrastructure reform and environmental sensitivity amid population growth. He also held 'koumbits,' where he motivated communities to plant trees, and held environmental-oriented installations making stoves using discarded tires, fueling them with fallen twigs instead of chopping down trees for firewood.

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Sasha Tebo

20 x 24 ″ Encaustic on canvas
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