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 ‘Coming together’, acrylics on canvas, 71 cm wide x 93.5 cm high, 2013, from Soeki Irodikromo.
The titles of art works are often too literal. They state that which the viewer sees. They add nothing to the work or to the viewing experience and the creativity of the viewer. In my opinion a title should be suggestive, raise questions, trigger curiosity and be somewhat puzzling.
The title of this work from Soeki Irodikromo (Pieterszorg, Commewijne, 1945) – ‘Coming Together’ – might initially seem literal. Figures coming together. That much is clear. But the title can actually refer to more aspects of the painting. Various colors, shapes, styles and symbols also come together. It is an abundantly filled convergence. The title hides that excessiveness within.
That abundance makes it into an enigmatic work. What exactly is happening here? Who are the figures? Is it a greeting? A planned meeting? A symbolic encounter? A meeting between lovers? It remains unclear. That uncertainty is strengthened because the artist allows the figurative and the abstract to mingle with each other. Furthermore, he works with symbols and characters that represent a language that I can only babble, but can’t speak nor read.
Irodikromo once said that Suriname is a melting pot of cultures. Its inhabitants accept the differences and more importantly, they are willing to share the different aspects of those cultures with each other. Looked at from that perspective, ‘Coming Together’ is a logical painting, an illustration of the country where the artist was born. It is not at all necessary to try to disentangle the elaborately tangled knot that he presents us with. That knot is supposed to be a knot. That knot is Suriname.
I am still inclined however, to link especially the characters, the symbols and the styles, to those different cultures. Perhaps that is a natural human act: a riddle must be solved. I do not get much further than that. I can detect hints of the CoBrA-movement in his imagery (his education in Rotterdam is undoubtedly partially responsible for that), I see symbols that could refer to Javanese mythology, I see a type of expressionism that leans more towards the international than the national, but that is as far as I get. For me many of the riddles remain riddles.
TEXT Rob Perrée, New York, October 2015
TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2015
Want to see this and other work of Soeki Irodikromo ‘up close and personal’? That’s possible at Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo. www.readytexartgallery.com. For more information about Soeki Irodikromo please visit the website http://readytexartgallery.com/soeki.
This edition of An Eye for Art has been sent as a RAG-mailing on Ocober 28, 2015 and was published in Kunst en Cultuur in de Ware Tijd on October 28, 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.