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 ‘In Search of 1’, acrylics on canvas, 80 cm wide x 60 cm high, 2000, from Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi.
A surprising work, this colorful painting.
Abstraction is not popular in contemporary Surinamese art, let alone geometric abstraction. And compared to Tjon Pian Gi’s other figurative work, this canvas seems an exception or a bold experiment. Yet it is still a logical extension of that other work.
Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi is inspired by her surroundings, but specifically by Surinamese nature and Surinamese culture, both traditional and more contemporary. This is especially noticeable in the portraits that she has painted of Surinamese women. Surinamese women are traditionally the designers of the well-known pangi textiles. In the arts they usually appear when they are worn, as a pattern or as a decorative element within a larger whole of visual elements. Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi gives them a life of their own. She paints them on canvas, meaning that she paints her personal interpretation of them on canvas. Just like how she always subjects reality to her own will or her own imagination. The subdued colors particularly, are indicative of this.
Several years ago, the Surinamese born artist Remy Jungerman created a series of lithographs of existing pangi-designs. His fascination for them however, went in a different direction. Research taught him that the designs originated from the same period as the work of the members of the artist group De Stijl, in particular from Piet Mondriaan. He brought them into the present by printing them layer upon layer, creating the impression of depth, and thus strengthening the suggestion of mutual influence.
Tjon Pian Gi chooses the Surinamese culture as her theme because she is deeply moved by it and because she wants to prevent its manifestations from becoming completely lost. Although she may not truly want to imitate reality, the method she uses is still a form of documentation.
TEXT Rob Perrée, Amsterdam, New York, October 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.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on Ocober 14, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on October 14, 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.