In collaboration with art critic Rob Perrée, Readytex Art Gallery has developed an 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 he talks about ‘Window 32’, acrylics on wood, 30 cm wide x 30 cm high, 2013, from Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi.
It might seem strange to call an exhibition of your paintings Short Stories. For Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi that is not so. Although her work might tend towards realism, she does no more than give a suggestion of the reality. As a viewer she leaves you with enough room to imagine your own ‘short story’. This work, ‘Window 32’, is a good example thereof. It depicts a window as you are likely to encounter in many places in Suriname. By painting it on wood, she incorporates a peculiar sort of alienation. As if she has taken a bite out of the real house and then mounted it on a wall. Painting is after all, usually done on canvas or paper. Because of the way in which she paints – streaky, with open spaces – she does indicate clearly that the viewer is indeed dealing with a painting. Confusing.
It is also confusing that people are missing in the painting, but that as a viewer you are instantly inclined to imagine them in it. It is a window of a house where people live. The curtain at least, is proof of that.
In short, with her works Tjon Pian Gi conjures up stories. She stimulates the fantasy of the viewer by initially putting him on the wrong track. And then, in addition to this, she puts herself in the place of the viewer: she writes short stories inspired by her own work. She falls into the category of double talents such as Lucebert, Hugo Claus, Jan Wolkers, Charlotte Mutsaers and others. Because her stories are also suggestive – they are more like poems – she manages to stimulate the viewer with those as well. What she does with paint, she does also with words.
When you look at the oeuvre of Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, it becomes clear that women play an important role in her work. Strong women, women who are trying to survive. But that attention for women, can also be indicative of attention for her immediate surroundings. That includes other people who are living out their fantasies, or colorful birds, or the overwhelming nature of Vermont, or the street scenery of Paramaribo in which houses determine the decor.
Contrary to what you may think of this work, tempted by the content, it is in fact very small. Tjon Pian Gi plays with multiple strange elements.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, July 2014
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2014
Want to see this and other work of Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Maagdenstraat 44-upstairs, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/kitlingtjonpiangi.
For the project The Strength of Women Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi made a video production. This is a fragment:
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on August 13, 2014 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on August 13, 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.