An Eye for Art: René Tosari, ‘Diversity is Power’

In collaboration with art critic Rob PerréeReadytex Art Gallery has developed a new, informative initiative: An Eye for Art. Once every two weeks Rob Perrée discusses a work of art from the collection of Readytex Art Gallery. This week: the ten-part painting ‘Diversity is Power’, 2009, by René Tosari.

René Tosari, 'Diversity is Power', mixed media op doek, 500cmx300cm (separate parts 100cmx150cm), 2009 / PHOTO Courtesy Readytex Art Gallery
René Tosari, ‘Diversity is Power’, mixed media op doek, 500cmx300cm (separate parts 100cmx150cm), 2009 / PHOTO Courtesy Readytex Art Gallery

René Tosari (Meerzorg, district Commewijne, 1948) makes art in various dimensions. He does not shy away from large scales. He grew up after all, in spacious surroundings, made engaged murals with others in the eighties, and later he made various works in public spaces, some by commission and some not. He knows what space is and what space does.

Still this painting, ‘Diversity is Power’ from 2009, remains a bold experiment. It consists of ten segments of each 150 x 100 cm. With regards to image, these segments fit together almost seamlessly. It is casually referred to as a ten-part painting. Actually a wrong term, because triptychs, four-part or ten-part works assume an equal amount of scenes. ‘Diversity is Power’ is one scene, made up of ten parts.

From a distance you seem to be looking at a collection of whimsical, brownish shapes against a vibrant blue background. The impression it makes is enormous. The work takes over the space.  In an exhibition in The Hague I saw how it interfered with the works that surrounded it. That impact inspires curiosity. Is it an overhead view of a group of islands? The Caribbean?

You want to get a closer look at the work. Then it becomes apparent that there are figures within the brown shapes. Black figures outlined in white. Sometimes they look like humans, sometimes like animals, and often they appear like something halfway between human and animal. There are also shapes that are more like signs, symbols. The small ‘islands’ are reminiscent of halved oranges.

Despite those diversities, there is still a noticeable whole. A whole that makes you feel good even. That is because the liveliness of the blue background is continued in the ‘islands’ and in the figures on those ‘islands’. In the center of the canvas a dancing couple seems to personify the whirling movement.

The title ‘Diversity is Power’ is ripe for interpretation. For the diverse Netherlands, where the painting was made, and perhaps also for the Caribbean, Tosari visualizes a wish with this work of art. Does he express the reality for Suriname?

TEXT Rob Perrée, 2014

TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2014

For more information about René Tosari please visit the website

This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on January 28, 2014 and was published in Cultuur Enzo in de Ware Tijd on January 29, 2014.

Because really looking at art and understanding art are not always obvious and easy to do, we hope that these regular reviews will at least offer you some insight into the process.  You will get to see how a connoisseur looks at art, discusses it, and then links the work to others within the international art world.

Of course you can only truly judge a work of art when you are actually standing in front of it yourself. We therefore hope to see you soon in Readytex Art Gallery  and are eager to hear what you think of this artwork, and which other works of art you find yourself drawn to. Please note that the artworks discussed are still available for purchase at the time that the review is published.

Rob Perrée is art historian and works as freelance writer, art critic and curator, specialized in contemporary (Afro-) American art, African art, Surinamese art and art using new media. His work has appeared in countless catalogues, books, magazines and newspapers. He is editor of Sranan Art Xposed, editor in chief of and a member of the editing team of Pf Photo Magazine. His website:


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