What: Exhibition “Camara”, by Kodzo ‘Camara’ Wilkinson
When: Saturday July 5 & Sunday July 6, 2014, 11:30-15:00 hrs & 18:30-23:00 hrs
Where: Spice Quest, Dr. J.F. Nassylaan 107, Paramaribo
Kodzo ‘Camara’ Wilkinson (1980) is an artist who has recently returned from Guyana to once again settle in his country of birth, Suriname. It is his second return.
As a boy he was briefly enrolled at the Nola Hatterman Institute, and after that at the E.R. Burrowes School of Art in Guyana. To his feeling, he only really got into art once he started teaching it himself. That was almost ten years ago.
In his latest series of paintings the tree has a central role, not so much because of its representation in nature, in reality, but in a symbolic sense. Various interpretations thereof are possible. It is striking that he often explicitly paints also the roots of the trees, and that the leaf cover is left to a minimum. It is most probable that this imagery refers to his own experience of being uprooted. That the tree of wisdom is left behind in a rather bare state, can possibly be seen in that context as well. His forced emigrations are possibly the evidence of wisdom in decline.
In this particular work – ‘Unforgiven’ from 2014 – it seems as though he has translated this latest aspect into his painting technique. He has burned off part of the edges of the image and in the center of the canvas holes appear to have turned up. There he has once again (roughly) removed the paint.
That application of different layers – he paints on linen but prepares it first with a soft layer of latex and wood filler – is a conscious choice. Manipulating the surface therefore becomes easier. The work literally gets depth. In the end he seems to finish his paintings with a transparent gloss. They glisten. They are hidden beneath a protective layer. A finish that, given his penchant for symbolism, is undoubtedly more than just a form of beautification.
In fact, Wilkinson is an artist who is still searching. He has little experience as a full time artist. His latest series of works do indicate that he is finding his way. I think that it is good then, that he sticks to the country that is most dear to him.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, May 2014
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2014
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.