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 ‘Untitled I’, mixed media on paper, 57 cm wide x 38 cm high, 2013, from Kenneth Flijders.
Many artists hesitate to give their work titles. I can well imagine so. A title can easily come across as an explanation or an illustration of the work. That takes all the fun out of it for the viewer. His curiosity is undermined and his creativity is lulled into sleep. The artist has already told him that which he wanted to find out by himself. That is indeed also the reason why many artists choose to give their work a very mysterious title. A title that offers endles possibilities. If that title then also has a beautiful or poetic sound to it, it even seems to improve the quality of the work.
For this work Kenneth Flijders (Paramaribo, 1956) chooses not to give a title. To emphasize that neutrality he has attached a number to it. He could hardly be any more businesslike. Still I think that this was a conscious and well thought out choice.
This work does not give much away. What am I actually looking at? What do I see? Nothing, and yet so much. Is it a creature? If that is so, then it must be an animal. A flat fish for example. That seems unlikely. It is a collection of lively shapes. Shapes that appear to be moving and are concentrated in the center into a strong core. A crater. Not just the color red seems to confirm that strength, but certainly also the material that has been adhered to the left side. That gives the powerful center something seemingly against the grain. It contrasts with the transparently applied paint, yet at the same time, through its shape, it searches for a connection with the red surface.
Especially because of that adhered material – is it jute or perhaps palmtree fibre? – it is impossible to call this work a painting, a watercolor or a drawing. For the sake of convenience and to hide our ineptitude we describe these works as ‘mixed media’. A vague term which you can never be overly criticized for.
Important in a work of art is that it unsettles me, that it puts me on the wrong track. Flijders has done so by taking from me the possibility to ascribe it to any particular genre. He has done so by forcing me to think about the content, about what I see. That as a whole ‘Untitled I’ delivers a powerful image, is a not an insignificant detail.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, September, 2014
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2014
Want to see this and other work of Kenneth Flijders ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Maagdenstraat 44-upstairs, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Kenneth Flijders please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/kennethflijders.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on October 8, 2014 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on October 8, 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.