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 ‘Born on the wrong date 1’, acrylics on canvas, 30 cm wide x 60 cm high, 2012, from Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi.
In 2012 Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi made a series of paintings which she named ‘Short Stories’. With short stories I would initially think of literature, not of visual art. Yet it turns out not to be such a strange title after all. Especially not for her. Language is a method of expression for artists as well. Her poems for example, are proof thereof.
The paintings in the series form a narrative. They are like short scenes from a story. This work is a good example thereof. In a realistic style Kit-Ling depicts a girl who walks through a street in Paramaribo. She walks alone. The sky looks somewhat turbulent. It’s quite windy. The yellow curtain is waving in the wind. It is not at all hard to think up a story. Where is she walking to? Is she as lonely as she seems? Is there a threat lurking?
What is striking is the red line that outlines her. Does that line continue? Is that a way to indicate that it is only a scene from a story? Does the story go on, just like how the red line creates the impression of an image that moves along, on its way towards the next scene?
Even more striking are the foreground and the blue sky. There are words written in them. Or at least the curly letters seem to form words. What is written exactly, is not clear. In the blue sky a bit of puzzle work might turn up something. The words on the street do not go beyond a suggestion of words. I don’t think it is important whether I can or cannot read those words. They symbolize the narrative character of the work. And above all, they symbolize the open content: Tjon Pian Gi appears to give the viewers the liberty to use their imagination and give it their own interpretation.
In a lot of her work Tjon Pian Gi showcases the diversity of the Surinamese culture. In this work she transcends the local and takes on a more universal theme. Could that girl not have been walking in any random city, in any other country?
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, March 2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2015
Want to see this and other work of Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, 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:
Several other short videos by Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi:
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on March 25, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on March 25, 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.