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 ‘Dans 2’ [Dance 2], mixed media on paper, 48 cm wide x 65 cm high, 2014, by Sunil Puljhun.
It was a surprise to me, this work. I know Sunil Puljhun (Paramaribo, 1978) as an artist who makes dark and sometimes also gloomy works. A lot of black and gray with here and there a patch of light.
Those works are also dark regarding content: abuse, violence and power are recurring themes.
This work seems to indicate a drastic turnaround. In and partially hidden behind a jumble of cheerful light colors and shapes, is a dancing blue figure. It’s not just the figure that’s whirling, but the shapes are whirling along. Who encourages what or who encourages whom is not entirely clear. It is a cheerful painting.
That proves to be a misunderstanding. Four years ago Puljhun lost his father. As the eldest son it was his responsibility to decide how his father would be laid to rest. In his culture this means taking care of the rituals associated with a Hindu burial. Rituals he knew hardly anything about. He started studying all kinds of rituals and almost inevitably also came across dance, a ritual in which movement and facial expressions have substantive and symbolic meaning. At the same time, during this tragic event surrounded by rituals, he was confronted with himself: who am I really? What does it mean to have Hinduism as my religion? Whereas his dark work is generally speaking about the harsh world out there, in this case it is all about him. That requires a different form also. That is how the trusted black starts making way for color.
I called ‘Dans 2’ a painting. That is not entirely correct. Puljhun has been engaged in digitally altering images for a while now, and in this case the paintbrush has gotten the company of the computer. They work together harmoniously.
It is not clear whether the artist will continue on this ‘light’ path. It could be an incidental step, caused by an incidental event. From it he has in any case learned that there are more options available to him when it comes to expressing himself.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, June 2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, Bahamas, 2015
Want to see this and other work of Sunil Puljhun ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Sunil Puljhun please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/sunilpuljhun.