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 ‘Skinny’, acrylics on canvas, 30 cm wide x 38 cm high, 2013, from Reinier Asmoredjo.
That Reinier Asmoredjo (Paramaribo, 1962) paints a woman is not surprising. Women are usually his theme. Especially Maroon women, women who in his eyes, receive less attention than they deserve. It seems as though he is trying to restore that imbalance with his work.
That he portrays them in profile is not strange either. He almost always does that. He is not intent on a traditional portrait that puts down an image of person as realistically as possible. His women are representatives of an idea, not components of a portrait gallery.
More striking are the colors that he uses. His black women are everything but black. They literally have every color of the rainbow. Still, as a viewer you have no doubt about the skin color of his models. Is that because a number of customary clichés – lips and breasts – are accentuated by him? He would then undermine his own mission. I suspect that the colors are representative of the culture to which ‘his’ women belong. Asmoredjo is well known for the fact that he wants to do the rich Surinamese cultures justice. In that culture color plays a dominant role.
This painting is titled ‘Skinny’. An intriguing title that puts one to thinking. She can, as a play of words, refer to skin or skin-color. But skinny, taken in its literal sense, has a negative connotation. The headphones offer some clarity. The woman is probably a young woman, a woman who considers herself more a representative of a generation, than that of a culture. That implies that she must sooner conform to the international advertising codes of a young woman, than to the classical image of a Maroon woman. The artist seems to be disappointed by this. Hij chooses after all to use the word ‘skinny’, and not ‘slim’.
Asmoredjo may paint figuratively, but he does not allow reality to restrict him. He wants to be able to incorporate his ideas and symbols and therefore chooses a style that approaches surrealism. That gives him more freedom. That allows him to tell HIS story, not THE story.
TEXT Rob Perrée, December 2014
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld
Want to see this and other work of Reinier Asmoredjo ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Maagdenstraat 44-upstairs, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Reinier Asmoredjo please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/reinierasmoredjo.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on December 31, 2014 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on December 31, 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.