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 ‘Wan Tranga Famiri’, mixed media on canvas, 35 cm wide x 60 cm high, 2009, by George Struikelblok.
Recently a ‘Giant Painting’ was installed in the departure hall of the Johan Adolf Pengel airport at Zanderij. Led by George Struikelblok (Paramaribo, 1973) – in his capacity as chairman of the Federation of Visual Artists in Suriname (FVAS) – 30 Surinamese artists contributed to this enormous painting. The result: a colorful jumble of images, which make it hard to recognize the work of the individual artists. A true collaborative project, in more ways than one. Because the project generated a lot of publicity, I could look at it without having actually seen it in real life. It did not surprise me that I was still able to immediately recognize Struikelblok’s contribution. He has a signature style that works almost like a company logo. Black outlined figures referring to people, blank heads, letters and numbers lost somewhere on the canvas, like a puzzle asking to be solved, rows of ‘teeth’ placed vertically or horizontally elsewhere on the surface, and perhaps most importantly: mobile multiple colors.
This painting is a good example thereof. The light blue background pushes the central image towards the front. This is made up of much more intense colors. Bright red, green and black dominate. Because Struikelblok paints in a seemingly sloppy way – there are no neat lines that fully connect, ‘spilled’ drops can be seen all over, forms run over or through each other – a dynamic is created that seduces and sparks curiosity.
Because his paintings are always somewhere between abstract and figurative, it is always guessing what exactly you see, or rather what you see in it. At first sight it is to me, a passionate embrace between two lovers. The sparks fly off of it. From some distance, but still quite close by: two other figures that seem to observe. In any case they radiate less energy. The title however, ‘Wan Tranga Famiri’ (Strong family), refers to a close-knit family. These figures could then be, or must be, the children of the excited pair. That is the downside of titles. They take away a part of your freedom. I would have preferred to see those other two in a competitive or an envious role …
Struikelblok uses love as his main theme for quite a while now. With that he has not made it any easier for himself. Somebody once said: happiness is the death of art. Because of his way of painting, because of the emotional impact of his paintings, because of the strength of his images, he has been able to, for now, refer that statement to the land of fiction.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, February 2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2015
Want to take a closer, personal look at this work? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about George Struikelblok please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/georgestruikelblok.
A previous edition of An Eye for Art about George Struikelblok can be read here:
‘Lob Makandra 2’, mixed media on canvas, 35 cm wide x 60 cm high, 2012 – SOLD / PHOTO Readytex Art Gallery/William Tsang
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on February 26, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on February 26, 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.