When many people think of fine art and famous artists, their minds fixate on the magnificent pieces of artwork created by artists from Europe and North America that are housed in major cultural centers such as New York, London, Paris, and Berlin. To fixate our minds on only the most famous ignores some of the greatest artistic talent the world has to offer. Even the smallest nations, nestled in the quietest corners of the globe have produced some of the greatest artists mankind has seen during modern history. Vaco Baissac is one such example of an artist who is often overlooked despite his stunning artistic talent.
Vaco Baissac, known simply as Vaco by many in the world of art, is an artist who was born in Mauritius on 1940. Vaco comes from a family with artistic talent in the blood. His brother Jean Claude Baissac followed a similar path in life to Vaco. Both men are Mauritian born, studied in Europe and spent time in Africa, before returning home to Mauritius. His true passion in life is to express the creole heritage of his native Mauritius through art. His preferred artist form is painting, but over time his endeavors have expanded to cover table wear, tablecloths, jewelry, and even sculpting.
All of those forms of expression proved to be mere side endeavors for a man whose true love is, and remains, painting. At the age of 72, Vaco continues to showcase the flora and fauna, natural landscapes, and people of the creole culture in Mauritius through paintings. His love of art stretches back through five decades of work and contains highlights that any aspiring artist could only dream of achieving.
Vaco’s first exhibition came in his native Mauritius in 1958. In the following years he would put on a second exhibition in Reunion Island (1960) and work with Serge Constantin and Siegfried Sammer at their Plaza theatre studio in Rose Hill. After six years of exhibitions and work in Mauritius, Vaco set off for different shores to expand his horizons and spread his art around the world.
In the coming years Vaco spent time studying in Brussels and Paris (1964-70) before heading to Africa where he would spend 20 years living and working. All the while his heart and mind remained in his native Mauritius. After more than two decades away, Vaco could no longer ignore his passion for his homeland and the inspiration it provided his artwork. In 1990 he returned to Mauritius to open his own studio and help spread a love for art among his fellow Mauritians.
Upon his return to Mauritius, Vaco set about rediscovering that which inspired his artwork and giving back to the people of his homeland. His first mission was to set up his own studio and provide art lessons to fellow Mauritians, both young and old. Additionally, he created murals for public and private settings across his homeland that exhibited the laid back, relaxed creole culture enjoyed by the inhabitants of Mauritius.
In all of his works, Vaco seeks to express his love of Mauritius. He does not seek to express an ideal vision of Mauritius, or someone else’s view of Mauritius, but rather he seeks to express Mauritius the way he remembers it and prefers to see it. The manner in which Mauritius inspires his artwork is best expressed by the artist himself. In comments to Mauritius Tourism he put his inspiration into simple terms:
In the simplest terms possible, Vaco offers a bright depiction of island life in each of his works. Certain images appear more frequently in his works, including images of Mauritian lifestyle, the flora and fauna, Mauritian women, and landscapes. But as the artist himself put it, “the artist does not choose a theme, he paints what touches him.”
Over the years Vaco has become famous for his bright illustrations of Mauritian culture. As his popularity grew in the late 20th century, he enjoyed the opportunity to represent Mauritius at numerous art exhibitions around the globe. He has appeared at the salon d’Automne in Paris, in Brussels, Belgium, Fribourg, Switzerland, and at the gallery ARTE92 in Milan, Italy just to name a few places.
Even as he has grown older he has shown little sign of slowing down. In 2005 he held his first exhibit in Mauritius in eight years, showcasing works from his “Voyages on the Southern Seas” which were inspired by trips to Australia, New Zealand, Polynesia, and the Marquise Islands. 2008 saw the artist host private shows in Hong Kong and Geneva, before returning to Mauritius in 2009.
Visitors and residents of Mauritius alike can enjoy his works anytime they wish. No matter where his travels take him, Vaco’s gallery and studio in his homeland is a permanent reminder of his work and his love for Mauritius. His gallery can be found in the village of Grand Baie on the northern coast of island of Mauritius.
To view his work is to experience the creole culture and the way of life of his native Mauritius. Vaco continues to create pieces inspired by and dedicated to the people of Mauritius.