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 ‘The First …’, acrylics on canvas, 65 cm wide x 111 cm high, 2014, by Wilgo Vijfhoven.
There are several things that intrigue me about this work of art. I know that while Vijfhoven (Paramaribo, 1964) paints figuratively, he does not attempt to create a true image of reality. He wants to be free to bring his emotions into it. The predominance of red and the white ‘shadow’ he has laid over the face of his model, are proof thereof. Striking in this work however, are the wild lines that he has ‘leaked’ over his painting. Rather than just being a deviation from reality, this act seems more like a disturbance of reality. Especially the carelessness, the randomness and the messiness of the lines seem to attest to a lack of respect for the individual portrayed. Or are the lines actually there to decorate the whole? If that is so, then the opposite is true. Whatever the case, it is as though he invites the viewer to take some distance. Also literally, because the lines create a sense of depth.
Vijfhoven makes no secret of his love for women. They are almost always the subject of his paintings. The person in this painting however, remains a mystery. The gender is not clear. Man? Woman? Both are possible. Because of that, the color red can be interpreted in different ways. In his paintings of women the red adds a haze of eroticism to the whole. In this work the red strengthens the suggestion that the ‘model’ is a native Indian. A ‘redskin’ with a feathered headdress. An unexpected change of theme.
From that point of view, the puzzling title – ‘The First …’ – suddenly becomes clearer. Wilgo Vijfhoven has afforded himself a little side trip within his own oeuvre. He left the women for what they are, and has diverted to another theme, a theme that is no less relevant in a multi cultural community such as that of Suriname.
The works that he is creating this year have yet to prove whether I am right …
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, September 2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2015
Want to see this and other work of Wilgo Vijfhoven ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Wilgo Vijfhoven please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/wilgovijfhoven.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on September 30, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on September 30, 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.