First solo exhibition of Sunil Puljhun: ‘The weight of darkness’

On Tuesday the 16th of August ‘The weight of darkness’, the first solo exhibition of artist Sunil Puljhun will open in De Hal. Most Surinamese art lovers are already well familiar with the artist’s work. At the various exhibitions that previously included his work, such as ‘Paramaribo SPAN’ and ‘Vredig, Vrij en Vriendelijk’ in 2010, the uniqueness of Puljhun’s work already stood out. This is due not only to his striking imagery and primarily black-gray palette, but his choice of materials, his technique and his way of working set him apart from his colleagues in the Surinamese art World.   
Sunil Puljhun with one of the artworks for his exhibition 'The weight of darkness' (PHOTO: Srananart/Cassandra Gummels, 2011)

The work that Puljhun exhibits at this exhibition can definitely be described as unique.  No colorful or cheerful scenes as we are often used to seeing in Surinamese art, but dark, primarily black-gray, and yes even somber works of art, which have the power to, initially at least, stop you in your tracks. Then the work starts to reel you in, closer by, deeper…. because whether you choose to or not, you can’t possibly get around the questions that the work conjures up. In his work Puljhun portrays, in his own unique figurative way, subjects such as the slavery that regrettably still exists in the world today, the fear gripping the young victims of child abuse, the often still inferior position of women, the occurrence of suicide which is a problem in Suriname as well, the wars which mankind keeps on fighting in their lust for power and riches, and many more global social issues.

Fragment of one of the larger works of art by Sunil Puljhun (PHOTO: Srananart/Cassandra Gummels, 2011)

 In order to strengthen the impact of his work Puljhun paints and draws mostly in black, at some point adding bright deliberate flashes of white which break up the darkness with a sense of urgency. As a white flame they appear to exclaim in warning; a frantic attempt to introduce light into the dark; infusing hope to dispel despair…. Good and evil, yin and yang. The darker side of mankind and the motivation that lies behind the destructive actions man is capable of; those are the things that hold the attention of Sunil Puljhun. Why it is that darkness often prevails over light? ‘The weight of darkness’. That is literally and figuratively what his work portrays.

By working on paper instead of canvas and by then allowing water to flow over the paint, Puljhun has developed a technique which by now defines the look of his work.  Paint and water combine to create an interesting effect of fluidity and motion, while other typical Sunil techniques, such as lighting a fire to the top layer of collage materials, result in a contrasting, rough and charred structure.  Black silhouettes, painted, drawn, adhered or stenciled and various collage techniques in which cut out segments occasionally create white silhouettes, are also characteristic. Puljhun royally experiments with and on his paper and thus creates a dynamic surface that reacts and interacts with the images he portrays upon it. No smooth, neatly framed canvases, but richly textured works on crinkled paper which especially in the case of the larger pieces, result in artworks that are unique in look as well as in presentation.  In the smaller pieces behind glass the compositions are more subtle, but no less powerful in impact.

On Saturday August the 20th starting from 7:30 pm, there is a ‘meet the artist’ event during which the artist talks with the public about his work in a relaxed conversation.

This post is from the Readytex Art Gallery press release.


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