The Mundo King Art Museum has got to be, hands down, the most profoundly strange place I’ve ever been. As you drive up the short road from downtown Sosua, its spires rise to meet you, twisting into the sky like alien oyster mushrooms.
Two warnings before we get any further. First, there is some sexual content, some of it strange. Second, these galleries do not handle landscape correctly, and some things are cut off in the thumbnails. This is a good post to click on the pictures and see them full size.
We had been to tour a rum factory right before going here, and this was fortunate, because this is not a place that was created sober. The castle, because that’s the best word I can come up with, rises five uneven stories, looking absolutely nothing like anything around it. Or like anything else at all, really. It is a bizarre collection of Haitian art, fanciful architecture, and hallucinatory graffiti of alien invasions.
You enter the building and find yourself in a courtyard full of statues, the first of many. There’s not really an order or a theme, just all the artwork they could fit, on pedestals in the middle of the courtyard and tucked into alcoves. At this point we were still feeling goofy.
From the courtyard we went down into the crypts. They are unlit, and the first is down a spiral staircase that keeps out almost all the daylight. And here we begin to experience the paintings, on every available surface and illuminated only with the light you bring. Themes of imperialist war, Monty-python-esque alien invasions, and… rock and roll?
The second crypt is down a long hallway, well defended by statues and inscriptions in a mixture of languages and religions.
And then you round the corner into the dark crypt, and flip on you light to find movie-inspired aliens, and The Cryptic Throne, which faces your most serious foray yet into explorations of the phallic.
Then it’s back up the stairs, and out back into another courtyard, this time showcasing a fleet of model spacecraft, right alongside more fanciful carved wood and stone statues. And everywhere, carved and painted text, a hallucinatory word salad of religion and science fiction.
The saga continues as you climb the stairs. The statues begin to be more intentionally placed, standing further apart, as if to make sure you can see the walls. More of the paintings take on a graffiti-style wildness, proclaiming the coming alien invasion enlightenment apocalypse.
And then you find bedrooms, and are reminded that not only was this a home for its eccentric German creator, Rolf, but the current caretaker slash ticket vendor still lives on-site. The nightmares that man must have… beautiful bed frames, though, and not a bad view from the rooms.
And then there’s the little balcony where these two face each other. Yes, it’s exactly what it looks like.
So we had a good time, climbing up the next few stories and seeing all the strange creations.
There’s so much of it that it starts to get overwhelming. I’m sure I’ve lost plenty of you already, and we’re barely off the ground. And we deleted a lot of photos to get here. What kept me from glazing over completely is how you keep running into things that are totally unlike what you were just looking at – and yet, in a sense, it’s all “ALIEN WORKS of JUNK fantasy”.
And then you reach the fifth story, and look out over the crenelations to the ocean and Mount Isabel, and back down into the courtyards.
Rolf passed away a little over a year ago. Already you can see his life’s work beginning to deteriorate. While there is a caretaker, art can be hard to preserve, even in an environment that isn’t hot and humid. This is, in a sense, a national treasure. But the nation isn’t at a level of development to support maintaining something like this, so in time, the paintings will fade in the direct sunlight, and the statues will crack and crumble. I was glad to be able to see this, while it’s still here.
Love the commentary and the art was right up Tim’s taste! Thanks for sharing!
What an incredible actualized dream. I thought of The Sagrada Famila and Gaudi but this fellow is more on the edge like Salvador Dalí. I hope they can find a way to preserve his works.
Just holy cow.