Exposed: ‘SHORT STORIES’ by Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi

In her new solo exhibition, the Surinamese artist Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi displays, just as in her previous exhibition, her fascination for the interplay between visual art and the art of words. It is therefore quite appropriate that the opening of her exhibition which is named SHORT STORIES, is also the May 8th opening event for the cultural program of the 13th International conference of the ‘Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars’ at Fort Zeelandia. The main theme in Kit-Ling’s work fits in seamlessly to that of the conference which will be hosted by Suriname this year. Their theme is: ‘The Caribbean, the Land and the People: Women’s Efforts, Women’s Lives’. The subject of women and the challenges and issues faced by women today, play an essential role in the art and the writings of Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi.

PHOTO Readytex Art Gallery/William Tsang, 2012

Women are indeed of great importance in the art of Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, but this does not mean that other themes are excluded in her collections. The artist finds her inspiration in her surroundings, her country, its rich culture, its nature, and the typical architecture. And oftentimes one subject is merged with another.  The collection consists of several series of which the imagery of each piece individually, but collectively stronger yet, makes the viewer curious and challenges him to speculation. The mood differs per series from serious and sober to cheerful and even fanciful. Although the artist commits herself fully, and with great attention to detail, to the quality and composition of her imagery, the underlying story hovers close to the surface. And when Kit-Ling adds the corresponding short stories, which incidentally read a lot like poems, to (and often in) the work, she sheds more light on the issue at hand. She transfers her imagination on to that of the viewer and all of a sudden the work comes even further to life. Behind the veil of the colorful and striking, sometimes also dreamy imagery, the mystery is slowly unraveled and in some cases the deeper social message is exposed. In several series the position and the development of women within the environment in which they exist, are put on display.

PHOTO Readytex Art Gallery/William Tsang, 2012

With a series about the windows of wooden houses painted on wood, Kit-Ling portrays the charm and the diversity of this simple yet so characteristic element of Surinamese street scenery in a captivating manner.

PHOTO Readytex Art Gallery/William Tsang, 2012

In yet another series, inspired by her ‘artist in residence’ period at the Vermont Studio Center in the USA, the artist sweeps the public along in her enchantment with and admiration of the breathtakingly beautiful nature which it seems held her its spell at that time.

As part of the program of the literary conference of the ACWWS,  Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi will hold a presentation named ‘Caribbean Woman, Visual Artist, Writer, Centipede’, in Hotel Krasnapolsky on the 11th of May. Presenting also on that day is Annie Paul, writer and art historian from Jamaica. Subjects such as art and theatre will be included as topics on this conference day.

On the opening night of SHORT STORIES Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi will also present her booklet of this same name in which a selection of her artworks and the corresponding ‘short stories’ are beautifully recorded. SHORT STORIES the booklet can be purchased during the exhibition for SRD 25,-.

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SHORT STORIES the solo exhibition of Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi can be visited at the Surinaams Museum at Fort Zeelandia from Wednesday the 9th thru Friday the 11th of May from 10:00-13:00 hrs and 19:00-21:30 hrs. The artist will be present and available to meet with the public on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 19:00-20:00 hrs.

TEXT Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld

What: SHORT STORIES, a solo exhibition by Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, with the presentation (and sale) of a booklet. The exhibition is part of the cultural program of the 13th conference of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars (ACWWS): The Caribbean, The Land and The People. Women’s Efforts, Women’s Lives. On Friday the conference and the exhibiton will be closed in a festive way

When: May 8 2012, opening night, May 9-11 2012, 10:00–13:00 hrs & 19:00–21:30 hrs, “Meet the artist” on Wednesday and Thursday 19:00-20:00 hrs

Where:  Fort Zeelandia, Paramaribo< Suriname

For more information and/or visual materials please contact Readytex Art Gallery by telephone on ++(597) 421750 or  via e-mail at


Speech by Monique Nouh Chaia, director/owner of Readytex Art Gallery, in honor of the opening of Short Stories.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests,

It is an honor to welcome you this evening on the occasion of the opening of SHORT STORIES, a solo exhibition by visual artist Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi.

In this new solo exhibition Kit-Ling shows that the use of words and stories mixed interchangeably with paints and canvases are still part of her artistic research. Just as the subject of women and their innermost energies and drives are still a source of endless fascination for her.

This binding theme of women in Kit-Ling’s body of work fits in seamlessly to that of this year’s conference: ‘The Caribbean, the Land and the People: Women’s Efforts, Women’s Lives’.  It is therefore that she was invited to be this evening’s opening event.

Women are indeed of great importance in the art of Kit-Ling, but this research of women’s energy and motivation is not limited to other women.  Kit-Ling the woman is also an object of research.  Many questions she has include involvement of the self.  She becomes very much a part of the discoveries she makes during the processes.  The great empathy she shows in her paintings for the subjects of choice reveal an advanced understanding of spiritual awareness, of knowledge that each one of us are part of one whole, that everyone’s pain and everyone’s glory are also our own.

The series you will see in a short while entitled ‘Always waiting’ and ‘Born on the wrong date’ are a gut wrenching attestation of the plight of dependant women.  This allusion to women’s dependent relation to men is also touched upon in ‘Mecredi des Cendres’, Ash Wednesday, a series inspired while in French Guyana during that period last year for an exhibition.  I find this series especially captivating because of the dimension added to it by the background of natural wooden boards and the way in which the wood is made to interact with the painting.

As a woman Kit-Ling does not limit her search for energy to the subject matter of women.  She needs to recharge herself as well.  Because ambition to do it all, to try it all, comes at a price… sheer exhaustion!
(I am sure many amongst you recognize that!)

Recharging, Kit-Ling style, is very much a part of her parental heritage as it happens by observing, absorbing and recording the ‘chi’ in nature. Especially water captures her attention.  We see that in the many artistic objects she has produced in her career, from paintings to one minute movies.  The energy that flows in water captures her attention.  The fluidity, the evasiveness, the shaping strength of its persistent movement.

The nature paintings that you will see in this exhibition are works of contemplation made in Vermont, USA, during a two week residency last year.  Kit-Ling came back invigorated but also with a new resolve, a new focus.  A necessary sense that Kit-Ling, the artist, needs a more prominent place.  Kit-Ling the art community developer is important, but the artist’s drive has always been her art, her quest to make a statement with her creativity and finally, now, she allows the artist that center of attention.

Kit-Lings paintings are typical of her, the images are very ‘accessible’, very gentle and inviting. But that accessibility belies the depth and complexity of the process by which she arrives at the final product.  Layer upon layer of contemplation, of crafting a mood or recording energy are meticulously planned and executed.  No detail is left unattended.  As onlookers we need to probe deeper, we need to take time to understand that what is presented is not as simple as it seems.  I find that one of the most interesting qualities of her work.

In this exhibition Kit-Ling also revisits her ‘city portrait’ series. Of this series Janice Whittle of Barbados writes: ‘They demonstrate her master draughtsmanship revealing the magical in the ordinary. This meticulous drawing delineates the physicality of the architecture of the Caribbean. They speak to the privacy of Caribbean people, where in the early years of our history such privacy was a luxury.’  A series inspired by Suriname’s historical wooden houses and their subsequent ‘almost demise’ has transcended the very specific space they are captured in and has sparked recognition in a totally different setting.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to ascend a very worthwhile set of challenging stairs to be part of the imagination and the registration thereof offered by a most complex and beautiful individual, a woman … A water dragon with the name of a flower.


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