Twenty years ago, on February 8, 1993, a new gallery was opened in the Maagdenstraat in downtown Paramaribo: Readytex Art Gallery. The intention back then, was to offer emerging artists a space where, aside from the occasional solo exhibition, they could show their work to the public year-round. Today Readytex Art Gallery is one of the most prominent galleries in Suriname and it is impossible to imagine the Surinamese art scene without her. We from the Sranan Art Xposed team express our gratitude and admiration for the two women behind the gallery: Evelyne NouhChaia-Issa and Monique NouhChaia SookdewSing. Thank you for all you’ve done and we hope that the gallery will have many, many more events to host, works to show (and sell!), artists to promote and so on. Congratulations also to the dedicated team that makes all this work possible. RAG Team, you rock!
Monique NouhChaia SookdewSing thinks back upon that day 20 years ago with a smile: “It was like a party at work. It was about working and selling, but then in the midst of a social event. There were many visitors. Everyone was full of praise and so enthusiastic.” A look at the old photo albums confirms the atmosphere that Monique so fondly remembers. A proud grandmother Issa who gets the honors of snipping the ribbon and cutting the cake, a beaming Evelyne NouhChaia-Issa who is seeing a dream come true, just like her daughter Monique who is overlooking it all with obvious pleasure. Pink walls full of artwork and laughing guests and artists further complete the festive scene. “And in fact, it’s been that way throughout the years. Every exhibition is like another party. Twenty years a party!” concludes the gallery owner with great mirth.
Those who know the ‘inbere’ [insides] of Readytex Art Gallery are well aware that aside from the art filled parties, there is also a lot of hard work done in the gallery and behind the scenes. They also know of the great challenges which were then, and are now, of influence to the success of the business aspect of the gallery. But the management of Readytex Art Gallery can proudly look back on the ever increasing growth and professionalization and many memorable milestones such as: the launch of the website in 2004, the first international art fair participation namely the Holland Art Fair in 2006, the first solo exhibition in the new venue De Hal (René Tosari, Dicht bij de oorsprong [Close to the origins] 2010), the large Kibii Wi Koni project of Marcel Pinas in 2011, in KKF, De Hal and in Moengo, and his election as Young Global Leader shortly before that, the pleasant collaboration with Gallery L’Encadrier in French Guyana, the role of Readytex Art Gallery in the many international residencies and events in which her partner artists regularly participate. “And each solo show is a major highlight as well!” adds Monique NouhChaia. With great pride she also sums up the exhibition statistics of the past twenty years: “43 solo’s, 30 mixed exhibitions, 21 international shows in which Readytex had a role to play, and not to forget the daily mixed exhibition in the gallery and a daily internet presence through the website and the Facebook page.”
The idea of Evelyne NouhChaia, who saw an increasing demand for visual art among the clientele of the souvenir department -several artists already sold small watercolors there- has turned into a challenging, but very satisfying business, which has resulted in valuable partnerships locally and internationally and which contributes significantly to the awareness and appreciation for art among the Surinamese public.
The ‘stonfutu’s’ who have been with the gallery since the beginning are Rinaldo Klas, Soeki Irodikromo, Kenneth Flijders, René Tosari, Reinier Asmoredjo, Henri (Soeka) Soekarman Kartotaroeno, Humphrey Tawjoeram and Anita Hartmann. The then newly graduated Marcel Pinas and George Struikelblok, currently two of the most significant Surinamese contemporary artists, joined early on as well. By now the steady team of the gallery includes Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, Wilgo Vijfhoven, Roddney Tjon Poen Gie, Kurt Nahar, Sri Irodikromo, Sunil Puljhun, Dhiradj Ramsamoedj and Hanka Wolterstorff. Also Ron Flu and several artists who live abroad such as Paul Chang, John Lie A Fo and Fineke van der Veen are represented by Readytex Art Gallery.
In order for the gallery to survive as a business in this challenging art market, it is necessary stay alert and active. The team of Readytex Art Gallery is deeply committed to her mission of promoting and marketing Surinamese visual art and artists locally and internationally, as effectively as possible and she fully supports the development and career goals of all partner artists. The gallery has a large and varied collection of art works in stock which she hopes to present to the public on a more regular basis. Since the current gallery is quite limited in space, a new plan is currently being implemented which will bring about some much desired change in this area. In the adjacent building, the parental home of Evelyne NouhChaia, where Readytex Specials was previously located on the ground floor, a large renovation is currently underway. Once it is completed, the beautiful historical building will be a spacious and beautiful Art house in which a much larger part of the art collection will be displayed. Yet another important milestone to look forward to!
But for now we turn our attention to the ‘bigi jari’ [anniversary] at hand!!! In order to celebrate her 20th anniversary, Readytex Art Gallery opens her second Out of stock exhibition on February 8 in which of each artist, some of the oldest and most recent work out of the gallery’s stock will be shown. A quite interesting and in many cases surprising selection! And a fitting way to share the fond memories of twenty unforgettable, artistic years, with all lovers of Surinamese visual art. Keep supporting us, keep supporting Surinamese art, and invest in the product of our Surinamese artists!
What: Out of stock exhibition, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Readytex Art Gallery
When: February 9-13, 2013, 19:00-21:00. Opening: February 8, 2013, 19:30. Music jam: February 9, 2013, 19:00-21:00
Where: De Hal, Grote Combéweg 45, Paramaribo