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|This painting is from Roddney Tjon Poen Gie (Paramaribo, 1962). He is currently attracting attention because he has just made an enormous sculpture for the Sculpture Park in Moengo. He also makes small sculptures. He works with ceramic, but especially with pieces of wood or branches which he finds in his immediate surroundings. His paintings seem to be placed in the distance due to that three-dimensional work. Still, the differences between his three-dimensional work and his ‘flat’ work are less than they seem.
What immediately catches the eye are the colors which Tjon Poen Gie uses. They display rays of joy. Still, with this painting you could ask yourself if the colors are not being used as contrast, to ask attention for the serious content. Is it not notable that he also portrays the colors in words? Does that not indicate that he is ‘warning’ about a readily available interpretation? Is the shuffling and splashing with colors in the background not another indication of that?
So as he says himself: “I am a mix of a Chinese and a Creole.” As such, to lots of fellow nationals he lacks a clear identity. He resists that because he is in the first place Surinamese. That is why he attempts to bring different cultures together in his work. That is why he mixes Chinese language signs with those of the Maroons. That is why he combines positive water elements – he sees water as symbolic of the Chinese who worked on the Surinamese water management – with the proud colors of the maroons. That is why the central figure in this painting is a mixture of human and animal, a symbol of fusion.
Is the title – ‘Missing Link’- a message to the viewer? Must they go in search of the missing link? Do they insufficiently see the links between the different races? Do they insufficiently see that unity can also hide in diversity?
There is yet another factor which diminishes the alleged difference between painting and sculpture. Roddney Tjon Poen Gie convincingly shows in this work how you could bring space into a painting. The central figure stands clearly in the foreground. The background is the décor for the space in which he (or she) moves.
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