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 ‘Coronie wiki’, mixed media on canvas, 150 cm wide x 100 cm high, 2014, by René Tosari.
“Sometimes they look like people, sometimes like animals, but often they seem like something halfway between human and animal. There are also shapes that look more like signs, like symbols. The small ‘islands’ are reminiscent of halved oranges.”
This is a sentence that I needed for this series last year, in order to describe the imagery of the large painting ‘Diversity is Power’ from René Tosari (Meerzorg, 1948). An imagery with detours, with signs and symbols of which you have to figure out the meaning; an imagery that is not averse to a touch of surrealism.
How different it is with this work. Here Tosari more closely approaches the reality, even if the formal setting is more artificial than reality. It resembles a collection of postcards that have fluttered down into a woodsy landscape. The images on the cards are clear: children, buildings, a statue, nature. The meaning can be deduced from the texts that Tosari has incorporated on the canvas. And from the title: The painting ‘Coronie wiki’ (Coronie wake up) is an appeal to the community – in this case the district Coronie serves as an example – to wake up and make sure that her children are provided with good education so that later on, they can be proud and know that they are respected. This looks like the ‘old’ Tosari. The artist with a mission. The artist who was, mostly in the eighties and especially through his graphical prints, deeply committed to changing his country. The artist who found it more important that his work had an impact, rather than it bringing him artistic appreciation or financial gain.
It is striking that ‘Coronie wiki’ comes from a series of canvases that he made in his last year in the Netherlands. He would soon turn 65 and he had decided that he would return to Suriname. His task in the Netherlands was done. This task included among other things, that he wanted to give children the opportunity to develop themselves creatively. It seems as though he wants to pass that ideal on to his homeland. But this canvas, and other paintings in this series as well, breathe a sense of yearning for Suriname. It seems as though he has taken inspiration from old family photos. He has resurrected those memories in his work, in order to prepare for his return. In those memories a symbolic and a surreal imagery is of little use. Those styles stand for a sublimated reality. Tosari wants to return to the true reality. And … that includes a message.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, January 2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld
Want to see this and other work of René Tosari ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Maagdenstraat 44-upstairs, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about René Tosari please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/renetosari.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on January 28, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on January 28, 2015.
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.