‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / ‘The Carriers of the Image’ – 3 – Winston van der Bok

June 22, 2017 at 4:17 pm (A Close Look, Been there, Exposed, Inspired) (, , , , , , , )

De Dragers van het Beeld, in English: The Carriers of the Image, is an art exhibition that was held in the foyer of Theatre Thalia, from April 28 until May 7, 2017. It was part of the celebration of 180 years Theatre Thalia. Eight visual artists worked with the theme of death, and more: resurrection from death, new life …

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi wrote a series of columns that we will be sharing on the SAX-blog. Today part 3, a text that accompanied the art work of Winston van der Bok. Please find the Dutch text under the English translation. 

Dragers van het Beeld Winston van der Bok 4 AK

On the right: Winston van der Bok, ‘Transformation – Siwalapa (war club) motifs’, acrylic on wood, 2017 – USD 300 a piece / PHOTO Ada Korbee

Dragers van het Beeld Winston van der Bok 5 AK

Nicole Smythe-Johnson, curator from Jamaica and EdKe, Surinamese visual artist, discussing the exhibition On the right: Winston van der Bok, ‘Transformation – Siwalapa (war club) motifs’, acrylic on wood, 2017 – USD 300 a piece / PHOTO Ada Korbee

Winston van der Bok and the theme ‘transformation’

Transformation is a concept that characterizes the life of Winston van der Bok.

If you ask Winston why he chose the theme ‘transformation’, he says: ‘Thalia is 180 years old and it’s no longer as it was 180 years ago. It has been through several transformations and will go through yet another transformation again.’

‘Transformation is what I focus on in the arts. I am indigenous and want breathe new life into old traditions. The indigenous tribes all over the world have been pushed aside. I want to raise awareness for the valuable old cultures of the Indigenous. It is my calling to transform that which has always lived, and still lives, within my deepest being into a contemporary art form.’

When Winston talks about his life, it becomes clear that his whole life is made up of transformations. True to his native character, Winston does not adhere to a numeric year count and essentially lives a timeless existence. He looks at his life as a labyrinth of roads that he has traveled. There is no real beginning, and every end is a new beginning.

Winston was born in 1947 in a very small village on the Cottica River, as third child in a family of seven children. Straight from his mother’s hammock, the young baby was given to two strangers who wanted the little baby very badly. His parents were convinced that the foreigners would be able to provide their child with a better future.

Winston grew up in the USA, where two strict, but fantastic foster mothers raised him, until he was about fifteen years old. Around his fifteenth birthday he was suddenly sent back to Suriname. He would ride on the Cottica River in a canoe with his father, surrounded by a muttering of languages he did not understand. Upon arriving back in his village, his mother knelt at his feet. She inspected his left ankle, saw the birthmark, and knew that her son had returned.

Winston moved to Paramaribo and married a beautiful city creole woman. Together they had two sons. His wife passed away at a young age. His sons were nine and six years old. For many years there was no woman in Winston’s life and he raised his sons all by himself.

Winston studied at the Surinaamse Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten (SABK) [Surinamese Academy for Visual Arts] and worked, for many years, in visual communications, graphic design and product marketing for businesses. He also became a graphic design teacher at the AHKCO.

He became ill. It was an acute pancreatitis that was not diagnosed as such initially. He came face to face with death. It was beautiful. A pleasant journey without barriers, straight through everything.

A successful operation brought him back into the world of the living. His son fed him like a baby and his girlfriend came from the Netherlands to take care of him. From that point on a new life had begun. A new transformation had taken place.

Characters, patterns and symbols similar to those you might see on petroglyphs, the traditional weaving and pottery of the Indigenous, are important elements in the art of Winston. Remarkable is the appearance of movements without a beginning and without an end in his work.

 

TEXT Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, 2017

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi is a female visual artist from Suriname. She works and lives in Paramaribo, Suriname, South America. Kit-Ling studied visual art in Suriname and in the Netherlands. In 2005 Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi added the short video-film as a medium to her artwork. Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi makes paintings and drawings, inspired by the tropical rainforest, and the richness of the diverse cultures in Suriname.

Kit-Ling was the featured visual artist at the 13th International Conference of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars. This conference, The Caribbean, the Land and the People; Women’s Efforts, Women’s Lives, was held in Suriname, in May 2012. Kit-Ling was the recipient of the Bridget Jones Award for 2013.

TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2017

PHOTOGRAPHY Ada Korbee & Marieke Visser, 2017

+++

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / ‘The Carriers of the Image’ – 1 – Introduction

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 2 –  Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 3 –  Winston van der Bok

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 4 –  Razia Barsatie

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 5 –  Soeki Irodikromo

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 6 –  Dhiradj Ramsamoedj

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 7 –  Sri Irodikromo

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 8 – Anand Binda 

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 9 –  George Struikelblok

+++

Winston van der Bok en het thema ‘transformatie’

Transformatie is een begrip dat het leven van Winston van der Bok kenmerkt.

Als je Winston vraagt waarom hij heeft gekozen voor het thema ‘transformatie’, zegt hij: ‘Thalia is 180 jaar en is niet meer zoals het 180 jaar geleden was. Het heeft meerdere transformaties meegemaakt en zal ook weer een transformatie ondergaan.’

‘Transformatie is waarmee ik in de kunst bezig ben. Ik ben Inheems en ik wil oude tradities nieuw leven inblazen. Inheemsen zijn overal in de wereld weggedrukt. Ik wil de oude waardevolle cultuur van de Inheemsen onder de aandacht brengen. Het is mijn roeping om wat altijd in mijn diepste wezen heeft geleefd en nog steeds leeft, te transformeren naar een hedendaagse kunstvorm.’

Als Winston over zijn leven vertelt, blijkt zijn gehele leven uit transformaties te bestaan. Eigen aan zijn Inheemse karakter, kent Winston geen jaartallen en leeft in principe een tijdloos bestaan. Zelf ziet hij zijn leven als een labyrint van wegen die hij heeft bewandeld. Er bestaat niet echt een begin en elk einde is een nieuw begin.

Winston werd geboren in 1947 in een heel klein dorp aan de Cotticarivier, als derde kind uit een gezin van zeven kinderen. Als baby werd hij zo vanuit zijn moeders hangmat meegegeven aan twee vreemdelingen, die de kleine baby heel graag wilden. Zijn ouders waren van mening dat de buitenlanders hun kindje een betere toekomst konden geven.

Tot ongeveer zijn vijftiende jaar, groeide Winston op in de USA, streng opgevoed door twee fantastische pleegmoeders. Rond zijn vijftiende werd hij plotseling teruggestuurd naar Suriname. Hij voer met zijn vader in een korjaal op de Cotticarivier en werd omringd door een geroezemoes van talen die hij niet verstond. In zijn geboortedorp aangekomen, knielde zijn moeder aan zijn voeten. Ze inspecteerde zijn linkerenkel, zag de moedervlek en constateerde dat haar zoon was teruggekeerd.

Winston verhuisde naar Paramaribo en trouwde met een prachtige stadscreoolse. Ze kregen twee zoons. Op jonge leeftijd kwam zijn vrouw te overlijden. Zijn zoons waren negen en zes jaar oud. Jarenlang was er geen vrouw in Winston zijn leven en hij voedde zijn zoons helemaal alleen op.

Winston studeerde aan de Surinaamse Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten (SABK) en was jarenlang werkzaam op het gebied van de visuele communicatie, vormgeving en productmarketing voor bedrijven. Hij werd daarnaast ook docent grafische vormgeving op het AHKCO.

Hij werd ziek. Het was een acute alvleesklierontsteking die in de eerste instantie niet als zodanig werd onderkend. Hij heeft de dood gezien. Het was mooi. Een prettige reis zonder barrières dwars door alles heen.

Een goed geslaagde operatie bracht hem terug naar de wereld van de levenden. Zijn zoon voedde hem als een baby en zijn vriendin kwam uit Nederland om voor hem te zorgen. Daarmee is een nieuw leven begonnen. Er heeft een nieuwe transformatie plaatsgevonden.

Tekens, patronen en symbolen zoals je die kunt zien in de rotstekeningen, het vlecht- en aardewerk van de Inheemsen zijn belangrijke elementen in het werk van Winston. Opmerkelijk is de verschijning van bewegingen zonder begin en zonder einde in zijn werk.

Permalink 2 Comments

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / ‘The Carriers of the Image’ – 2 – Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi

June 17, 2017 at 12:34 am (A Close Look, Been there, Exposed, Inspired) (, , , , , )

De Dragers van het Beeld, in English: The Carriers of the Image, is an art exhibition that was held in the foyer of Theatre Thalia, from April 28 until May 7, 2017. It was part of the celebration of 180 years Theatre Thalia. Eight visual artists worked with the theme of death, and more: resurrection from death, new life …

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi wrote a series of columns that we will be sharing on the SAX-blog. Today part 2, a text that accompanied her art work. Please find the Dutch text under the English translation. 

'Alakondre Phoenix'

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, ‘Alakondre Phoenix’, 2017 / PHOTO Ada Korbee, 2017

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi and the Alakondre Phoenix

Within the framework of 180 years Theatre Thalia, I, Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, chose the phoenix as my subject.

The phoenix

This mythical creature fascinates me for several reasons.

In the first place, because it’s a bird and I have always seen the bird as a free spirit. The soaring bird takes me back to the time when I was a teenager dancing ballet, and I experienced that as the ultimate freedom to express emotions. Secondly, because of the fictional stories that balance somewhere on the edge between reality and fantasy, something I often like to do within the visual arts as well.

Thirdly, because the phoenix is a universal symbol of resurrection and immortality, but also of death and rebirth. As such the phoenix fits seamlessly within the theme we chose for the celebration of 180 years Thalia.

The fourth reason is that it’s a legendary bird that dies through self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice intrigues me because in this world of people who give and take, those who only take, emanate such dominance. Is this group truly that large, or does it only seem so?

And fifth, because such mythical creatures seem to exist in different cultures. The phoenix is often compared to the Chinese Fenghuang and to the Garuda known in India as well as in Indonesia. The phoenix is even compared to the Mexican Quetzalcoatl.

The phoenix is described as a magnificent divine bird with feathers in striking colors and that can sing beautifully. His age ranges from 300 to 100.000 years. At the end of his life he sets himself on fire on a bed of fragrant herbs and from his ashes another phoenix arises.

Sometimes the phoenix is described as a heron, sometimes he has the characteristics of a peacock, and at other times he looks like an eagle.

 

The Alakondre Phoenix

Born and raised in Suriname, I have, when it comes to the visual arts, been on a quest through cultural diversity and hybridism. Ultimately this has led me to Alakondre. Why is Alakondre more than cultural diversity to me? Cultural diversity essentially involves different people. Alakondre is also within the individual persons.

I have currently defined Alakondre as follows: the adaptation of all cultures, from all countries, by the individual human being and by the various communities that inhabit the world. In order to be able to take Alakondre onto yourself, you have to open yourself up to those other cultures. You have to be curious and must want to learn more about the other cultures. When you embrace the other culture, it becomes a part of you. Because it becomes a part of yourself, you cannot hate it. With Alakondre there will be no more racial discrimination, and even less racial hatred.

My phoenix is an Alakondre Phoenix. It can be an egret, a sabaku. It can be an eagle, a gonini, but it can just as well be a simple small bird, a grietjebie (Great Kiskadee) or a pikan (Squirrel Cuckoo).

 

Dragers van het Beeld 'Alakondre Phoenix'

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, ‘Alakondre Phoenix’, 2017 / PHOTO Ada Korbee, 2017

Dragers van het Beeld 'Alakondre Phoenix'

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, ‘Alakondre Phoenix’, 2017 / PHOTO Ada Korbee, 2017

 

TEXT Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, 2017

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi is a female visual artist from Suriname. She works and lives in Paramaribo, Suriname, South America. Kit-Ling studied visual art in Suriname and in the Netherlands. In 2005 Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi added the short video-film as a medium to her artwork. Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi makes paintings and drawings, inspired by the tropical rainforest, and the richness of the diverse cultures in Suriname.

Kit-Ling was the featured visual artist at the 13th International Conference of the Association of Caribbean Women Writers and Scholars. This conference, The Caribbean, the Land and the People; Women’s Efforts, Women’s Lives, was held in Suriname, in May 2012. Kit-Ling was the recipient of the Bridget Jones Award for 2013.

TRANSLATION Cassandra Gummels-Relyveld, 2017

PHOTOGRAPHY Ada Korbee & Marieke Visser, 2017

+++

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / ‘The Carriers of the Image’ – 1 – Introduction

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 2 –  Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 3 –  Winston van der Bok

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 4 –  Razia Barsatie

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 5 –  Soeki Irodikromo

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 6 –  Dhiradj Ramsamoedj

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 7 –  Sri Irodikromo

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 8 – Anand Binda 

‘De Dragers van het Beeld’ / The Carriers of the Image – 9 –  George Struikelblok

+++

Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi en de Alakondre Phoenix

In verband met 180 jaar Thalia koos ik, Kit-Ling Tjon Pian Gi, voor het onderwerp ‘Phoenix’ of ‘Feniks’.

De Feniks of Phoenix

Het fabeldier boeit me om verschillende redenen.

Ten eerste omdat het een vogel is en ik heb de vogel altijd als een ‘free spirit’ (vrije geest) gezien. De zwevende vogel brengt me terug naar de tijd toen ik als tiener ballet danste en dat ervoer als summum van vrijheid in het uiten van emoties.

Ten tweede vanwege de gefantaseerde verhalen die balanceren op de rand van werkelijkheid en fantasie, zoals ik ook vaak zelf binnen de beeldende kunst wens te balanceren.

Ten derde omdat de feniks is een universeel symbool van wederopstanding en onsterfelijkheid is maar ook van dood en wedergeboorte. Hierbij sluit de feniks naadloos aan bij het thema dat we voor 180 jaar Thalia uitkozen.

Ten vierde omdat het een legendarische vogel is, die sterft door zelfopoffering. Zelfopoffering intrigeert me, omdat in deze wereld van mensen die geven en nemen, de mensen die alleen maar nemen, zo een dominantie uitstralen. Is die groep werkelijk zo groot of lijkt het maar zo?

Ten vijfde blijkt een soortgelijk fabeldier in verschillende culturen voor te komen. De feniks wordt vaak vergeleken met de Chinese Fenghuang en met de Garuda, die je zowel in India als in Indonesië tegenkomt. De feniks wordt zelfs vergeleken met de Mexicaanse Quetzalcoatl.

De feniks wordt beschreven als een prachtige goddelijke vogel met een vederdracht in schitterende kleuren en die prachtig kan zingen. Zijn leeftijd varieert van 300 tot 100.000 jaar. Aan het einde van zijn leven steekt hij zichzelf in brand op een bed van geurige kruiden en uit zijn as ontstaat een nieuwe feniks.

De ene keer wordt de feniks beschreven als reiger, soms heeft hij karakteristieken van een pauw. Een andere keer lijkt hij op een arend.

De Alakondre Phoenix

Geboren en opgegroeid in Suriname heb ik op het gebied van de beeldende kunst, een speurtocht door culturele diversiteit en hybriditeit gemaakt. Ik ben nu uiteindelijk terechtgekomen bij Alakondre. Waarom is voor mij, Alakondre meer dan culturele diversiteit? Bij culturele diversiteit zijn er in principe meerdere mensen betrokken. Alakondre zit ook in de individuele personen.

Alakondre heb ik nu als volgt gedefinieerd: de adaptatie van alle culturen van alle landen door de individuele mens en door de verschillende leefgemeenschappen die de wereld bevolken. Om in staat te zijn Alakondre tot je te nemen, moet je jezelf openstellen voor die andere culturen. Je moet nieuwsgierig zijn om te weten hoe die andere cultuur in elkaar zit. Als je die andere cultuur in jezelf opneemt, wordt het een onderdeel van jezelf. Omdat het een onderdeel van jezelf is, kan je het niet haten. Met Alakondre zal er dan geen rassendiscriminatie zijn, nog minder rassenhaat.

Mijn Phoenix of Feniks is een Alakondre Phoenix. Het kan een reiger zijn, een sabaku. Het kan een arend zijn, een gonini, maar het kan ook een eenvoudig klein vogeltje zijn, een grietjebie of een pikan.

Permalink 2 Comments

Thursday-Night-Feature: presentation by René Tosari about syuru, also known as sorrel

January 3, 2017 at 12:30 pm (Coming up, Inspired, Thursday Night Feature) (, , , , , , , , , , )

What: Thursday-Night-Feature, presentation by René Tosari about his fascination with syuru, also known as sorrel
When: Thursday January 05, 2017, 19:00 hrs (doors open 19:00 hrs, start presentation 19:30 hrs)
Where: Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo, Suriname

image002

René Tosari, ‘The Beauty’, mixed media on canvas, 120x100cm, 2016

At Readytex Art Gallery the new year brings with it new possibilities and new challenges, and of course also a new series of Thursday-Night-Features to look forward to! Eager to kick things off for us in 2017 is Surinamese visual artist René Tosari. On January 5th, the first Thursday of the year, Tosari presents a new collection of artworks inspired by an interesting, somewhat unexpected theme. His new artwork has everything to do with a specific plant that the artist is currently fascinated with: sjoeroe or sorrel as the plant is called in the Caribbean.

Over a year ago René Tosari became interested in the fruit of the sorrel plant through a friend who is originally from Trinidad, David Michael. When the artist discovers that it is a very sturdy plant that multiplies easily and rapidly, and from which delicious and healthy tea or juice can be made, ideas start brewing in his artistic brain. David’s stories about the use of sorrel in traditional Caribbean culture as well as Tosari’s own childhood memories about the use of sorrel in Suriname strengthen his interest. The engagement shown in the earlier work of Tosari, especially in the 80’s with regards to socio-political and also agricultural subjects, seems to resurface as a result of his interest in sorrel.

The artist currently has plenty of sorrel plants growing in his garden and his home is always well stocked with sorrel tea. He eagerly hands out plants and fruit and his fascination with the plant has inevitably grown into a new art project. He has entered into a new phase in his art. In some of his new works the inspiration can be read from the canvas literally, but there are also a number of interesting abstract pieces in which the link with sorrel is not so obviously present.

Why and how Tosari became so interested in sorrel and how it has influenced his art, will be explained by the artist at the TNF on Thursday January 5th. He will be assisted in his presentation by David Michael who will briefly talk about the history and the use of sorrel in the Caribbean.

+++

René Tosari has a new website. Please click here.

Untitled.jpg

+++

Eline Visser is in her first year of DIY Textile School, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. For her modules Contrast & Form, she does research and experiments collage techniques with paper and textile, during her stay in Boxel, Wanica, Suriname in December 2016-January 2017. Here is a Sranan Art Xposed Flickr album with the Project Syuru Sorrel Sjoeroe.

img-20161214-wa0014

+++

From Wikipedia: “In the Caribbean, sorrel drink is made from sepals of the roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa). In Mexico, ‘agua de Flor de Jamaica’ (water flavored with roselle) frequently called ‘agua de Jamaica’ is most often homemade. It is prepared by boiling dried sepals and calyces of the sorrel/flower of Jamaica plant in water for 8 to 10 minutes (or until the water turns red), then adding sugar. It is often served chilled. This is also done in Saint Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, Antigua, Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago where it is called ‘sorrel’. (In Jamaica, it was introduced by Akan slaves in the late 1600s.) The drink is one of several inexpensive beverages (aguas frescas) commonly consumed in Mexico and Central America; they are typically made from fresh fruits, juices or extracts. Something similar is done in Jamaica but flavor is added by brewing the tea with ginger and adding rum, making a popular drink at Christmas time. It is also very popular in Trinidad and Tobago where cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves are preferred to ginger.”

IMG-20161229-WA0006.jpg

Making sorrel drink in the happy kitchen / PHOTO Marieke Visser, 2016

Permalink Leave a Comment

Thursday-Night-Feature: Presentation Sibylle Szaggars Redford

May 5, 2016 at 4:47 pm (Coming up, Inspired, Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

What: Thursday-Night-Feature: Presentation Sibylle Szaggars Redford

When: May 5, 2016, 19:00-21:00 hrs (presentation starts at 19:30 hrs)

Where: Readytex Art Gallery, Steenbakkerijstraat 30, Paramaribo, Suriname

Sibylle Szaggars Redford is a German born multimedia environmental artist from the US, who is currently in Suriname within the framework of the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies program (also on Facebook). In Suriname she will, as she does elsewhere, visit several indigenous communities to gain inspiration for the artworks that she will create for the new building of the US embassy in Suriname, which opens later this year.

Also in Suriname are two other artists, Gregory Leon Baird & Karsten Staiger, both – as well as Szaggars Redford – in the project The Way of the Rain.

The work of Sibylle Szaggars Redford is fascinating. From her spiritual consciousness of our connection to life, the land, and the world, she creates art aimed at raising our awareness of environmentally unsound practices. She gets her inspiration from nature, ancient cultures such as the Hopi and the Pueblo tribes in the USA, from Morocco, or as in her most recent work the monsoon rains in the New Mexican High Desert. This is where she developed her ‘Rainfall’ series by placing her abstract watercolor compositions out in the rain, allowing it to interact with the work. This concept gradually developed into her Way of the Rain project, a multimedia performance that she has presented at, among other places, the National Young Arts Foundation in Miami and the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City. These performances are a fascinating fusion of visual art with dance, music, light and spoken word.

During her presentation at the Thursday-Night-Feature at Readytex Art Gallery on May 5th, Sibylle Szaggars Redford will use photos and videos to introduce the public to her The Way of the Rain project and to her unique collaboration with the rain.

+++

Press release U.S. Embassy Paramaribo, May 3, 2016: U.S. Embassy Welcomes Art in Embassies Exchange Artist Sibylle Szaggars Redford

mv sib

Sibylle Szaggars Redford

+++

JAN First Thursday

Readytex Art Gallery

Permalink Leave a Comment

Inspired – Surinamese Inspiration in South-Africa: the Nature Collages of Jon Daamen

April 28, 2015 at 1:31 pm (Inspired, Outspoken) ()

“I obtain the most beautiful colors from flower petals, the most beautiful shapes from seeds and seed pods. The seeds of the African tulip*, a large tree with red flowers, that I brought with me from Suriname, are wonderful to work with. Airy, translucent, filling and at the same time creating space and depth.”

Up

Jon Daamen, ‘Omhoog’ [Up]. Jon Daamen: “This collage is made with flower petals from roses and bougainvillea from my garden here and also with flower petals from the flamboyant that stood in our garden in Togo. Coming from Suriname are the ‘fayalobi’-flowers, the Spathodea-seeds and the ‘speldeknoppen’. And then there are also ‘fijnbos’ flowers from the most Southern part of Africa in it.” / PHOTO Niels Bastiaensen

In her studio in Tuinplaas on the South African Cape, Jon Daamen is busily experimenting. She makes two-dimensional collages from natural material and thus portrays landscapes with great atmospheres. The type of creations for which she became well known when she lived and worked in Suriname. Because of her move to South Africa, her artistry was put on the back burner for many years, until an unexpected visit to her former home country rekindled the spark. Halfway through 2014 she was briefly in Suriname for the first time in 17 years. She left with a bag filled with seeds and pods. And with a heart filled with inspiration to start making art again.

But picking the thread back up after such a long hiatus is a struggle …  She has explored Surinamese nature as few others have during the 25 years that she lived there. She is not as yet familiar with African plants; she has never before worked with them.

Zon’ (Sun) Jon Daamen: “A collage from the Surinamese days. The butterflies are from Spathodea-seeds. I found the two other materials at the Costerie creek. The collage Jon Daamen, ‘Zon’ [Sun]. Jon Daamen: "'Zon' was made years ago in Suriname. By now too old to remove the glass from it, because the leaves have become extremely fragile and brittle.”

Jon Daamen, ‘Zon’ [Sun]. Jon Daamen: “‘Zon’ was made years ago in Suriname. By now too old to remove the glass from it, because the leaves have become extremely fragile and brittle.” / PHOTO Niels Bastiaensen

“I struggle with Cape landscapes, Surinamese skies and two kinds of light. And because my work is often suggestive, a mixture of accents and emptiness, it has to be just right to be recognizable for others. The images in my mind’s eye cannot be compared to the reality of here and now. Light in Suriname falls totally different from the way it does here, because here the sun sits much lower and throws much longer shadows. In the early mornings it often looks as though everything is bathed in silver and as night falls we have a more orange-tinted light. The long shadows give a lot of depth to the landscape.”

For her African work she uses, just as she did in Suriname, seeds, pods, dried leaves of shrubs, trees and flowers.  But also ‘kapok’, tufts of horsehair that she finds in the barbed wire around her farm, feathers and insect wings. And sometimes also fish or turtle scales and the sloughed off skin of snakes, but only those that she finds, she doesn’t kill anything for it.

Jon Daamen, 'After the fires'. Jon Daamen: “This work is made with kapok in front of the clouds and termite wings in front of the water around the reeds in the foreground, both from Togo. From Suriname are the ‘speldeknoppen’ (Syngonanthus umbellatus, Eriocaulaceae-family), a Savannah plant. The stems are the fallen tree trunks, the heads are the sheep or brushes in the background, and the young whole plants stand like reeds in the foreground. For the burned down trees on the mountain face I used the tops of protea-stamens and for the mist flurries, the middle part of those same stamens. The smoke is horse hair that got stuck in my barbed wire. It is called ‘After the Fires’ because the whole has an atmosphere of a morning after the rains that extinguished the large fire of Hermanus. Two years ago, after a weekend on the farm, we drove away in the early morning completely bewildered by a fascinating landscape of blackened mountains, wisps of smoke and white clouds against a background of a lagoon flooded in silver morning light. The image is engraved in my memory and when I began working with black, silver and white, it came out automatically.”Work in progress: 'After the fires'  / PHOTO Courtesy Jon Daamen

Jon Daamen, ‘After the fires’. Jon Daamen: “This work is made with kapok in front of the clouds and termite wings in front of the water around the reeds in the foreground, both from Togo. From Suriname are the ‘speldeknoppen’ (Syngonanthus umbellatus, Eriocaulaceae-family), a Savannah plant. The stems are the fallen tree trunks, the heads are the sheep or brushes in the background, and the young whole plants stand like reeds in the foreground. For the burned down trees on the mountain face I used the tops of protea-stamens and for the mist flurries, the middle part of those same stamens. The smoke is horse hair that got stuck in my barbed wire. It is called ‘After the Fires’ because the whole has an atmosphere of a morning after the rains that extinguished the large fire of Hermanus. Two years ago, after a weekend on the farm, we drove away in the early morning completely bewildered by a fascinating landscape of blackened mountains, wisps of smoke and white clouds against a background of a lagoon flooded in silver morning light. The image is engraved in my memory and when I began working with black, silver and white, it came out automatically.”Work in progress: ‘After the fires’ / PHOTO Niels Bastiaensen

Work in progress: 'After the fires' / PHOTO Niels Bastiaensen

Work in progress: ‘After the fires’ / PHOTO Courtesy Jon Daamen

Because of her residence on three continents, she recognizes forms and landscapes from all over, in all kinds of natural materials, even in stamen and cauliflowers. Only the surroundings are different. In South Africa everything is easy on the eye and arranged in planes and groups. Is that why the experimental collages that Jon Daamen currently makes are much fuller than what she previously did? She thinks this is indeed the case. “The images I make now are abstracter, wilder and fuller. Maybe because I do in fact miss the fullness, the messiness, the colorfulness of  Paramaribo.”

Baardskeerdersbos  Art Route

Baardskeerdersbos Art Route

Baardskeerdersbos  Art Route

Baardskeerdersbos Art Route

Baardskeerdersbos  Art Route

Baardskeerdersbos Art Route

Baardskeerdersbos  Art Route

Baardskeerdersbos Art Route

On April 18 & 19, 2015, the collages of Jon Daamen were part of an exhibition in the Baardskeerdersbos  Art Route, an attractive and much visited initiative from the artist village of the same name, where the painters, photographers, sculptors, ceramists and guest artists open their homes for the public three times a year. Incorporated in the work that Jon Daamen has shown there, are seeds obtained from the pods that she picked up under the Spathodea at the Van ’t Hogerhuysstraat in Paramaribo.

* Spathodea campanulata, better known as African Tulip

Jon Daamen / Courtesy Jon Daamen

Jon Daamen / Courtesy Jon Daamen

Jon Daamen / Courtesy Jon Daamen

Jon Daamen / Courtesy Jon Daamen

TEXT Chandra van Binnendijk

Chandra van Binnendijk (Paramaribo, 1953) is editor and publicist. From 1977 until 1988 she was part of the news editors of various newspapers and radio stations, and was a correspondent for various Caribbean media. After ten years she said goodbye to active journalism and is since focusing mostly on culture, art and history. She has co-written several art publications amongst which Twintig jaar beeldende kunst in Suriname 1975 – 1995 (Amsterdam, KIT Publishers,
1995) and she was author and compiler of the art catalogue Zichtbaar (Paramaribo, 2005) about the art collection of De Surinaamsche Bank. Recent publications in which she was involved as co-author and co-compiler are Bouwstenen voor een betere wereld. 250 jaar vrijmetselarij in Suriname (Paramaribo, 2011) and TOR. A People’s Business (Paramaribo, 2012).

Permalink 4 Comments

%d bloggers like this: