News — 13 Nov 2020

12-12-2020 until 31-05-2021

The exhibition Surinamese School, which opens on 12 December at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, is a celebration of Surinamese painting in all its diversity and depth. Presenting over 100 artworks by 35 artists, Surinamese School explores the key themes and narratives at the heart of Surinamese painting from 1910 to the mid-1980s. Depictions of Surinamese history, spirituality and everyday life, alongside forays into abstraction, and social change, gave shape to artistic developments.

Armand Baag, 'Baag Familiy Portrait', 1989, oil on canvas. Collection Joyce, Sura and Surina Baag, Amsterdam
Armand Baag, 'Baag Familiy Portrait', 1989, oil on canvas. Collection Joyce, Sura and Surina Baag, Amsterdam
Jules Chin A Foeng, 'Chinese Flip-Flops', 1980-1983, oil on canvas. Collection Patrick Chin A Foeng
Jules Chin A Foeng, 'Chinese Flip-Flops', 1980-1983, oil on canvas. Collection Patrick Chin A Foeng

The exhibition pays particular attention to Surinamese pioneers who blazed a trail for other artists by spearheading the development of art education and professional practice and, with this, the development of painting. A team of guest curators identified the artist-innovators who put Surinamese art on the map. Some artists combined their artistic practice with social and political activism, in pursuit of a (culturally) independent Suriname. Surinamese School also features a significant number of works by artists who lived and worked in Amsterdam for many years such as Armand Baag and Quintus Jan Telting.

Guest curators of the exhibition: "The 'Surinamese School' seeks to explore the coherence and dynamics between different generations of Surinamese artists. Taking a chronologically thematic approach, the exhibition shows that while there is no clear of definition of ‘Surinamese’ painting, similar genres and subjects reappear. The exuberance and vitality of the works in the exhibition invite further research and more presentations in the future.

Rein Wolfs, director Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: “The Stedelijk’s historic collection contains few artworks by Surinamese artists. But thanks to many lenders from Suriname and the Netherlands, this exhibition was able to go ahead. Their support enables us to examine Surinamese painting from a variety of perspectives, and further consolidate their place in collective memory.

In the year in which Suriname celebrates 45 years of independence, the exhibition also recalls the country’s shared history with the Netherlands. One of the legacies of prolonged Dutch colonial rule, for example, led to a dearth of professional art education and, for many years, Surinamese artists were compelled to leave their own country to pursue their art training in the Netherlands. After graduating, many artists returned to Suriname permanently or temporarily. Jules Chin A Foeng completed his education in the Netherlands and, upon returning to Suriname, championed Surinamism in his work and in art education. In addition to art training in their own country, which evolved against a backdrop of mounting nationalism, processes of decolonisation and nation-building, the artistic dialogue between Suriname and the Netherlands impacted the work and life of various artists in the exhibition.

Erwin de Vries, 'Abstract', 1969, oil on canvas. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Erwin de Vries, 'Abstract', 1969, oil on canvas. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Artists in the exhibition: Armand Baag; Wim Bos Verschuur; Robert Bosari; Jules Chin A Foeng; Frank Creton; Augusta and Anna Curiel; Felix de Rooy; Robbert Doelwijt; Wilgo Elshot; Ron Flu; Rudi Getrouw; Leo Glans; Eddy Goedhart; Nola Hatterman; Soeki Irodikromo; Rihana Jamaludin; Jean Georges Pandellis; Rinaldo Klas; Noni Lichtveld; Hans Lie; Guillaume Lo-A-Njoe; Nic Loning; Rudy Maynard; Jacques Anton Philipszoon; George Ramjiawansingh; Stuart Robles de Medina; George Gerhardus Theodorus Rustwijk; Cliff San A Jong; Gerrit Schouten; Govert Jan Telting; Quintus Jan Telting; René Tosari; Erwin de Vries; Paul Woei; Leo Wong Loi Sing.

Wim Bos Verschuur, 'Rice Wittie Boitie, The Good Expectation', date unknown, oil on canvas. Kenneth E. Beeker (b’ker), Amsterdam
Wim Bos Verschuur, 'Rice Wittie Boitie, The Good Expectation', date unknown, oil on canvas. Kenneth E. Beeker (b’ker), Amsterdam

The exhibition is curated by guest curators Jessica de Abreu (anthropologist and co-founder of The Black Archives), Mitchell Esajas (anthropologist and co-founder of New Urban Collective and The Black Archives), Bart Krieger (publicist, independent art historical researcher and founder of BAM! De Kunst Toko) and Ellen de Vries (publicist and independent researcher) in collaboration with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam staff members Inez Blanca van der Scheer (project leader STUDIO i), Claire van Els (curator) and Carlien Lammers (diversity officer). Ellen de Vries is the initiator of the project proposal. The exhibition concept was developed by the working group of (guest) curators. Chandra van Binnendijk (independent publicist and editor in Suriname) is involved as content editor and as consultant advising on the exhibition concept.

The exhibition design is developed by Serana Angelista.