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 ‘De familiegeesten’ [The family spirits], oil on canvas, 250 cm wide x 150 cm high, 2010, from Dhiradj Ramsamoedj. .
The painting ‘De familiegeesten’ [The family spirits] by Dhiradj Ramsamoedj (Paramaribo, 1986) is a work that is just as strange as it is intriguing. At first glance it is a portrayal of a relaxed family gathering. Outside, under a large shed, in cheerful colors. The surroundings are depicted rather realistically even though the light is peculiar, but the people look like they are from another planet. They are science fiction figures, actors from a second-rate Hollywood film. In the center, a creature that hardly even refers to a human anymore.
That creature is the ‘Flexible Man’, the alter ego of the artist. Used by him in several variations amongst which a sculpture, and even more typically, as a ‘suit’ during performances. Here ‘flexible’ does not only refer the flexible nature of the material from which the man is made, but especially to his supposed character.
Ramsamoedj has made a significant amount of works that fall under the all-encompassing title Ordinary People Reloaded. Whether they have been ‘reloaded’ by him, or whether the surroundings have brought about a change, is hard to say. Both are possible. I know that the artists’ opinion of mankind is not solely positive. He believes that many people are losing their true selves and are increasingly being influenced by the self-centered, materialistic world in which they live. He manifests that opinion by giving them oddly shaped heads, which are, for lack facial features, hardly distinguishable. He changes humans into spirits, abstract shadows of reality.
It is notable that he positions the ‘Flexible Man’ centrally. That may be because he wants to clearly distinguish himself from his surroundings, as if he doesn’t want anything to do with his surroundings. On the other hand, the ‘cloth man’ can also be looked at as a symbol of conformity, or more flatly said, as a symbol of someone who just swims with the tide. Is this a case of healthy irony or of blunt self-criticism? If the latter applies, then the flexible man would be the ultimate embodiment of that which the artist generally holds against people.
As I said earlier: a work that is just as strange as it is intriguing.
TEXT Rob Perrée, July 2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2015
Want to see this and other work of Dhiradj Ramsamoedj ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Dhiradj Ramsamoedj please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/dhiradjramsamoedj.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on July 29, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on July 29, 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.