In 2012 KIT Publishers published two books in collaboration with Felix de Rooy. The first was Curaçao Classics, a catalog for the exhibition Antepasado di Futuro in 2011. The second is a book about De Rooy’s own oeuvre. It is a comprehensive publication about the nationally and internationally acclaimed artist. Various aspects of his artistic existence are highlighted. The book is chronologically structured and divided in chapters about visual art, theatre, film and curator-ship. Aside from his own texts there are contributions from among others Charl Landvreugd. Texts are written in English, Dutch and Papiamento. Although it is a very extensive publication, it is a pity that it does not include a DVD with short fragments of his film- and theatre work. A great loss to this beautiful tribute in the form of a book, but more important than a tribute, is the documentary value of it all. It is not easy for the general public to come into contact with the work of De Rooy, especially since it is so widespread and diverse. The lack of such audio visual material is perhaps due to budgetary constraints. It would increase the costs and the financing of this project was already quite challenging. The book was in fact funded in part by crowd funding, a public collection project through www.voordekunst.nl. Sranan Art Xposed wrote about this crowd funding project in a previous post.
In Suriname the book was presented in restaurant Garden of Eden. Some impressions below.
Kirk Claes made a beautiful video in which Felix de Rooy’s Garden Spirits were captured.
In the preface of his monograph De Rooy writes in poetic, sometimes lighthearted and then again in pretentious language, about his mixed background which makes him into an example of the “multi-moksi-meti’s, engelen van gemengd vlees” [multi-mixed-meat, angels of mixed flesh]. Flowery language is typical of De Rooy and it sometimes looks like the equivalent of the rich, lush and occasionally intense imagery of the artist. The quality of his work lies perhaps in the fact that it has a uniquely individual signature and is not to everyone’s taste. De Rooy follows his own artistic vision, whether it is accessible or not.
What is particularly remarkable is that the book gives a complete idea of how the work of De Rooy has been received. It does not include only laudatory pieces, but there is also room for criticisms, sometimes even fierce reviews. Compatriot and writer/presenter, the late Anil Ramdas for example, gives undisguised criticism of De Rooy’s vision and action surrounding the role of Zwarte Piet [Black Piet] in the debate regarding the Dutch Saint Nicholas celebrations. In addition there are critical reviews on several plays from his hand. In short, a well-balanced book, where there is room for praise as well as criticism.
From the images it becomes clear that there is a fairly consistent line in the work of the artist. His figurative style occasionally shows surrealistic and psychedelic elements, at other times it is mostly pure figurative. The influences of the sixties seep through, the typical rich background style is especially recognizable in his drawings.
The book shows a beautiful selection of what might well be his most engaged work, the sculptures built of (sometimes historical) objects, such as from the series Cry Surinam. It is in these works especially that his Antillean-Dutch-Surinamese background comes to the surface, through for example the use of folk art.
Throughout the work of De Rooy beauty plays a certain role, aesthetic beauty, but especially the beauty and wealth of the (spiritual) life. Throughout the entire oeuvre of De Rooy vulnerability and morality also play a significant role. Perhaps it is this contrast between beauty and ephemerality, a classic theme in the arts, from which De Rooy’s work lends it character.
The book clarifies one thing, that the work of De Rooy cannot be restricted to one specific area. For Felix de Rooy a better label than the annoying one of ‘artist of life’ is in fact not possible, but then with all of its clichés stripped away, because he far transcends those. An artist of life and a 21st century variation on the renaissance man; diverse, intelligent and almost untouchable in his artistic work.
ego documenta; The testament of my ego in the museum of my mind, Barbara Martijn & Felix de Rooy (red.), Amsterdam, KIT Publishers, 2012. ISBN 9789460222092
TEXT Dan Dickhof, 2012
Dan Dickhof writes about old, modern and contemporary art for various media –such as 8WEEKLY, worked in the area of auctions and helps with creating exhibitions. He studied at the art academy in The Hague and also works as an artist.