A Close Look – Anand Binda: “Making art is my mission”

From April 18-May 7 2011 Anand Binda will have a solo exhibition in Royal House of Art, Royal Torarica, Kleine Waterstraat 10, Paramaribo, +597 473821 / (0)855 3525. With the compliments of Parbode this blog post  offers the Sranan Art readers a close look at Anand Binda’s way of working and an indepth view of his art, written by Lynn Laureys.  

Making art is my mission. Everybody has goals in life and I discovered my mission quite early on. Even back in elementary school I was already drawing on the blackboard and making drawings for classmates. In 1973 I left for the Art Academy of The Hague. I can still vividly remember the day of admissions. About three hundred applicants were standing in line with a large portfolio folder under their arms. Everybody knew that only 30 would be admitted. I stood there with two other Surinamese hopefuls and most of the candidates came back out crying. But all three of us were accepted. Unbelievable. One of them still lives in Holland and the other never finished. I am the only one who kept on going.

Anand Binda in his studio / PHOTO Lynn Laureys, 2010

Suriname has a relatively young art tradition. Going to Holland was therefore the logical thing to do. I have never regretted my choice, even though it was a difficult decision. After my education I immediately returned to Suriname. The nature and the country pulled at me like a magnet. Since then I have never been gone for longer than three months. And I think I will keep living here forever.

Impressionism has never again let go of me. When I first entered the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, I was instantly intrigued by the work of Dutch impressionists such as George Breitner and Jacob Maris. That trend in art has become a part of me. The impressionists caused a breakthrough in their time, around approximately 1900. They took their easels outside with them and studied the light. In one day for example Claude Monet made a series of eight paintings because the sunlight resulted in a play of shadows. It was the discovery of nature. Painters took a step back from their fantasy and concentrated wholly on reality. In meditation you also learn that there is only one reality. Nature is the only thing that remains constant. People change, but nature always remains true to itself.

Meditation and art go hand in hand. The one reinforces the other. The majority of mankind lives on the outside and neglects the inside. Artists are people who concentrate more on what is inside. There are also a great deal of artists who use drugs, but then you become disoriented and get on the wrong track. This should be avoided at all cost. You have to look at yourself while completely level-headed. People tend to hold on to negative thoughts for too long, even if it is not necessary. Meditation teaches you to let go and to focus on the moment. Your entire perception changes once you let go of all of your problems. And then you can embrace life.

Letting go is not easy. I always let my paintings ‘ripen’ in my living room. If I am not satisfied, I take them back down and change certain things. Sometimes I find it difficult to sell paintings. It is a bit like saying farewell.

Acting intuitively can result in surprises. The first thing I do to a blank canvas is paint it over with several layers of yellow. That color has the tendency to shine through the upper layers, as a warm glow. This is something I discovered by coincidence. Later on I read in a book that many of the old masters did the same thing.

Emotions are of great importance. Especially for an artist. Karel Appel, Corneille and Constant, members of the Cobra-movement from the fifties, were driven by the purity in the drawings of children. A child has no preconceptions; adults influence them automatically during their upbringing. I train teachers to form art education. In each elementary school, one teacher is trained to teach Visual expression to the entire school. A teacher should be a coach and guide the children. In those classes students are taught how to deal with fear, joy and anger. Children have great potential. If you allow them to brainstorm about a certain subject, they come up with amazingly good ideas.

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The art scene subconsciously has great influence. We are by nature social creatures and that has a certain effect on your work. You see what artists all around you are producing and you live in a certain atmosphere.

Why doesn’t Suriname have a National Gallery? It is extremely important that a country present her art and culture expressions in an adequate way. This stimulates and inspires. The lack of a good display venue for artists is a national disgrace and shows a lack of self respect. There are occasional and temporary exhibitions at several locations, but there is no permanent overview. Surinamese artists should get the recognition they deserve.

Painting is like an exploratory expedition. I never know how a work will end up looking. That makes it fascinating. Sometimes I have a goal in mind and want to visualize a message. I have noticed that over time you get to know yourself better. You need to choose your own path as an artist and find your own truth. Because that’s what it’s all about. Through the years you develop your own signature style. I would never copy Van Gogh, but I would like to give my interpretation to his vision on reality.

Trees inspire me. They are the silent witnesses of events and they have a great deal to tell. Trees offer us many advantages. Shadow, fruits and beauty. I once painted a large kankantri (silk cottonwood tree) that seemed to glow under a yellow light. I hung the painting in an exhibition but had decided not to sell it. But along came the Director of Billiton, the company that mined bauxite in Suriname, with an unbelievable story. He told me of how several years ago he had given the order to several workers to take down a kankantri at the place where they were to start mining. The workers however, all people who live in the forest, refused to place the dynamite sticks in between the roots of the kankantri, because to them it is a holy tree. After a lengthy search the Director succeeded in finding some workers who were willing to blow up the tree. But right at the moment when they were about to press the button to set off the explosion, lightning struck the tree and split it in two. The tree in my painting symbolized to him exactly that what he had witnessed there that day. I sold the work to this man. It was destined for him.

Discipline is crucial. That is the most important thing I teach my students. It may sound cliché, but craftsmanship is mastery. You need to have a solid base in order to build on from there. Even great artists such as Picasso started out initially making realistic paintings. He started experimenting with cubism later on. And that is as it should be, step by step. If I skip my morning ritual, I feel incomplete. Each day for me starts with a walk through nature. After this I do breathing exercises and yoga. These are in preparation for the actual meditation. It is a daily ritual, even if I am sometimes in a time squeeze.

We need to focus more on positive events. Only dramatic things make the news. Bomb explosions, natural disasters. We are not interested in seeing beautiful things. People hunger for hot news topics and I try to distance myself from that. I rarely look at the news and if it leans towards the sensational, I instantly turn it off. I would like to engage myself for a program about visual art, but then there would be little time left over for painting.

Artist have an enormous ego. You have to learn how to deal with that and how to make your ego into your friend. You can’t do without an ego, but you have to live in harmony with yourself. Arrogance, greed and jealousy should absolutely be avoided.

I am very fond of my studio. It is extremely inspiring here and that is why I hardly ever leave my house. It is a real pleasure to be here. In the back of my garden I have a stream where I often sit with my dogs. Heavenly. Nature is my muse. I can also paint in other places, but my work environment must have a peaceful atmosphere.

Spatially I want to take it one step further. Adding an extra dimension to my work and digging beyond the flat surface. Which direction this will take exactly, I cannot yet say. During my studies at the art academy three-dimensional art was my strongest subject and exactly that is a side I have never before utilized. I am curious as to what will come of it.

Anand Binda exhibits his work several times a year, in Suriname as well as abroad. He also works as a visual arts teacher. He exhibited for example, in Moscow early 2010 and was one of the artists who made artifacts for the World exhibition in Shanghai. In October 2010 his work was on display at the National Art Fair in Suriname and in an exhibition in Barbados, together with other FVAS-members. In 2011 his work is included in the ABKS exhibition Crossroads in Life in April, in De Hal, Paramaribo, Suriname and in an exhibition at Royal House of Art, Paramaribo, Suriname. This solo exhibition will run from April 18-May 7. During the second half of 2011 Anand Binda will participate -invited by Arte Euroamericano- in an exhibition in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Anand Binda’s mail address is binand@yahoo.com

TEXT Lynn Laureys. After a training period with the monthly magazine Parbode in Paramaribo, Suriname, Lynn Laureys (Vilvoorde, Belgium, 1987) finished her studies in 2010, as a Bachelor of Journalism at the Arteveldehogeschool in Gent, Belgium. At the moment she lives in Belgium again and she participates in the Master Program Cultural Studies from the Catholic University of Leuven. Contact: lynn.laureys@gmail.com

TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld

This post was made possible by Parbode, a monthly, Dutch language, magazine in Suriname. Every month the magazine devotes two pages to art, written by Bart Krieger. In ‘Kunstschatten’ Krieger takes a close look at works of art.

3 thoughts on “A Close Look – Anand Binda: “Making art is my mission”

  1. This is a very interesting article about Anand Binda, his work and his views on the visual arts. I am pleased that this information is made availble to the English speaking community as much of the knowledge and experience in Suriname still remain unnoticed to the non-Dutch speaking territories, especially in t he Caribbean. Thumbs up for the journalist Lynn Laureys and Parbode!
    Question: Is it possible to get the contact information of Lynn Laureys?

    Riane de Haas-Bledoeg
    Deputy Programme Manager Culture
    Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat


  2. Hi Riane, Thanks for your comment. The Sranan Art team wants to get information about Suriname’s culture out there, in the rest of the world. There is so much going on in our country and we are happy to see that English readers all over the world start to notice. Lynn Laureys’ her email address: lynn.laureys@gmail.com. I have also added her address to our post, as well as the name of the translator: Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld.


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