A post by Peter Jordens.
The work of iconic Curaçaoan sculptor Yubi Kirindongo can be seen until June 1, 2014 in the ‘Beelden aan Zee’ Art Museum in The Hague, the Netherlands. The exhibition is titled ‘Rebel in Art & Soul.’ Over fifty large and small sculptures provide an overview of Kirindongo’s artwork, which is made from waste material and discarded objects. Here are excerpts of an article by Mineke de Vries that appeared in Ñapa, the weekend supplement of Amigoe.
“I am certainly not the product of some master. I can be original and free without the restrictions of rules. […] I am happy that I did not attend an art academy, where I would have been drilled and molded. It’s because I think beyond established rules that I can avoid being defined by them.” The fact that he is self-educated makes him a rebel, he says: “Not a rebel in the sense of a political troublemaker, but in terms of my own way of being.” […]
Driven by his concern for nature, the depletion of the ozone layer, and the motto “Keep your island clean,” he decided to make beautiful things out of waste. “I began to see potential in all the trash in Curaçao. In other words: other people’s trash is my cash. […] I take possession of the left-overs of our consumption society.” In Yubi’s style, recycle art, it’s all about composing a piece of art from existing objects. The separate objects often remain in their original state and remain recognizable, but become something else [and gain new meaning …]. “The common thread in my art and in my life is how one deals with blows. My early work symbolizes this by using shiny chrome bumpers: protectors that absorb hard jolts. […] Furthermore, he wishes to use his artistic expression to expose social problems and abuse on the island: [his themes include] slavery and the emancipation of the black population, which again and again result in the main theme of human freedom. […]
“In addition I am devoted to visual rather than conceptual art; the sculptures must be concrete, real and accessible. After all, I am South American. We like concrete things. Furthermore, I always want to surprise people. I try to use material that no one else has ever used.” […] This man who is so earthed in his sculptures has now arrived at a point in his life where he wants to start paying attention to spiritual things. “Some people are afraid of that, but for me it’s mystical, a calling to become conscious of and to connect with what happens in the cosmos while we are here on Earth. I am going to delve into it and want to disseminate it to trigger awareness.” […]
The ‘Beelden aan Zee’ Museum is extremely proud to be able to exhibit Kirindongo’s work. It is remarkable that an art museum – which, in contrast to a gallery, must be even more selective when deciding whether an artist is museum-worthy and artistically distinctive – is exhibiting his work. [General Manager Jan Teeuwisse explains:] “It is unique when someone without an artistic background and formal training achieves museum standards. In this sense, he has delivered his own contribution to art history.” These words from Teeuwisse may yet be the greatest compliment that an artist can receive. […] Teeuwisse continues: “What fascinates me the most is the fact that he extracts existing materials from their context to subsequently bestow them with new beauty. It’s not a matter of admirable decorative dexterity; rather he creates an entirely new world by reusing used objects. It is simultaneously esthetic and coarse – a marvelous combination. His works are intriguing and convincing. And when things start to fascinate you, it means that the artist has attained profoundness in his art.”
The complete, original article (in Dutch) can be downloaded at http://www.amigoe.com/pdf-napa (February 8, 2014, pages 1, 8-9).
The work of Yubi Kirindongo (1946) has been exhibited throughout the world, both in galleries and at international exhibitions such as the Biennials of Havana, Johannesburg and São Paulo, but until now it had hardly been seen in the Netherlands. In 1997 Kirindongo received the Cola Debrot Prize, the highest cultural distinction in Curaçao, for his visual arts oeuvre. In 2011 (Dutch) Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima visited him at his house which is like a community art museum – a house without a living room but with a sculpture garden – in the middle of the poor neighborhood called Ser’i Kandela.
For more (in English) about the ‘Rebel in Art & Soul’ exhibition and about Yubi Kirindongo, go to