Stuart Robles de Medina, pioneer of modern art

Stuart Robles de Medina is one of the pioneering artists of Suriname. Born in 1930, he belonged to the first post war generation that went to study in the Netherlands, together with Erwin de Vries and Rudi Getrouw, who also were pioneers of modern art and teachers for a living.


SRdM Abstract composition, private collection, 1958
Abstract composition, private collection, 1958 / PHOTO Courtesy Family Robles de Medina

Stuart became a popular teacher, but in 1955 he also won the first prize of the Suriname section in the Alcoa Caribbean art contest. After a second study in the Netherlands he was commissioned to do several sculptures that still mark the city of Paramaribo: the doors of the Central Bank of Suriname, the so called Statenmonument at Spanhoek, and above all the bronze statue of Jopie Pengel in the Independence Square, the only major bronze sculpture ever to be cast in bronze in Suriname. He also designed several series of stamps in the sixties. In his paintings his style varied from a precise realism, mainly in portraits, to a Picasso-like style, and bold, radical abstract paintings, as early as the late fifties. He moved to the Netherlands for personal reasons, in 1982. He passed away in 2006.

SRdM Two figures, woodcut, private collection, 1968
Two figures, woodcut, private collection, 1968 / PHOTO Courtesy Family Robles de Medina

About this important pioneer of Surinamese modern art, there is a publication in the works. It will be written by Paul Faber, who published several books on modern art from Suriname. His last publication was also a monography, on Jules Chin A Foeng. See

To make this publication as complete as possible we would like to ask the readers of this blog for information on the whereabouts of works made by Stuart Robles de Medina, who usually signed his works with his prenom: Stuart. If you own a work, or know the location of a work by Stuart, please forward your message to or to The book will be published in 2018.

Stuart Robles de Medina’s signature
SRdM Stuart Robles de Medina finishing the statue of Pengel, 1974
Stuart Robles de Medina finishing the statue of Johan Adolf Pengel, 1974 / PHOTO Family Robles de Medina

TEXT Paul Faber, 2017

Paul Faber is art historian. He worked for 11 years at the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, and for 17 years as curator at the Tropenmuseum Amsterdam. Currently he is an independent curator and writer. He realised many exhibitions and publications, mainly on art and culture in Africa and Suriname. Important projects (often in cooperation with Chandra van Binnendijk) include: Twenty years of Visual Arts in Suriname (1995), Visual arts in Suriname, the twentieth century (2000), Schaafijs en wilde bussen. Straatkunst in Suriname (2010-2011, in Suriname and in the Netherlands), Jules Chin A Foeng (book, 2015). For a complete list see

TEXT EDITING Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2017

More information about Stuart Robles de Medina:

Article in Waterkant, May 23, 2006 

Dutch Wikipedia-page about Stuart Robles de Medina

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