In collaboration with art critic Rob Perrée, Readytex 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 ‘Lob Makandra 2’, mixed media on canvas, 35 cm wide x 60 cm high, 2012, by George Struikelblok.
George Struikelblok (Paramaribo, 1973) is a multifaceted artist. Paintings, installations, sculptures, assemblages, art in public spaces: no medium seems taboo for him. Several years ago he even brought one of his paintings literally to life, by making a performance out of it, a dance led by live music.
Yet it is especially because of his paintings that he is so well known, not just in Suriname, but also abroad.
There are several possible explanations for this, the most important one being their recognizability. Struikelblok often works in the same style. There are almost always moving, black outlined figures, which refer to people. Their heads look like balloons. Faces, let alone facial expressions, are missing. Their bodies resemble a type of fan. Often they are surrounded by a row of numbers or letters. There are always, as are in the bottom right of this painting, two rows of ‘teeth’ somewhere. The shapes contrast in color with their background. That background has no identity. It reminds me of a palette asking for fresh paint. The color panes always incorporate drops. His ‘Pollockian’ working method probably has something to do with that: Just like the American artist Jackson Pollock he lays his canvases on the floor and works on them straight from the paint can.
The colorfulness of his canvases is another thing that really catches the eye. They radiate happiness. They are a visual translation of optimism. Also in their symbolic significance, they refuse to become bleak.
That colorfulness is more than a stylistic device. Struikelblok’s theme revolves around love, in many varieties. This work is a clear example thereof: two figures, seeking contact with one another, who are about to embrace. Whereas in his earlier work his absent father was a recurring theme, it seems as though since becoming a father himself, this personal drama has been dealt with, or at least pushed towards the background.
George Struikelblok is a successful artist. That is in the first place due to the type of work that he makes, but also because he realizes that as an artist you have to be active, must take the initiative, and direct your view towards the wider world. Struikelblok is a Surinamese artist who thinks internationally.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, June 2014
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2014
Want to take a closer, personal look at this work? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Maagdenstraat 44-upstairs, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about George Struikelblok please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/georgestruikelblok.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on July 02, 2014 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on July 02, 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 Africanah.org and a member of the editing team of Pf Photo Magazine. His website: http://robperree.com.