GEORGE STRUIKELBLOK: LIFE IS FRAGILE BUT VALUABLE
After 31 years, Art is still a way of life for Surinamese Artist George Struikelblok. The critically acclaimed artist, who has had many exhibitions in Suriname, The Netherlands, Guyana and many other countries is well known for his colorful art with a strong back story. In a relatively short period of time, he emerged as one of the most innovative artists in Suriname. Since the early days as a student at Nola Hatterman Academy, graduating and subsequently attending the Edna Manley Art institute in Jamaica, his work has evolved steadily over the years. The theme’s he uses involved Life, Love & Death.
Struikelblok uses different media to tell his personal story. In addition to paintings, he creates immense installations and sculptures. ‘In the beginning my paintings were gloomy and dark, but in the colorful paintings for which I am currently best known, a gradual change takes place. The negative emotions have given way to happier ones, as I have settled down in my own family life and experience like the joys of fatherhood. But nowadays everyday life is an inspiration to me though my past as a small boy is still lingering. Inspiration comes as life unfolds and I see the world go through many different stages of change,” says Struikelblok
LIFE REMAINS VALUABLE
During this Suriname International Art Fair the artist will be showing work he made pre-Covid times in a collection he calls “Lob Makandra’ (To Love each other). He will also debut his art installation named ‘Fragility of life’
“Life is worth gold. COVID-19 does not distinguish between people’s origin, gender, status, age and education. Sometimes you get the feeling that life’s worth has diminished to the likes of silver. Looking at the behavior of the people around the world this increasingly seems to be the case. It looks like we are distancing ourselves form values. The images we encounter around us always indicate how sensitive and fragile we are as human beings as millions have preceded us. As we look or even experience the many burials and burning of corpses, we know that many people are now living in dark days with a lot of pain and sadness. Fortunately, we continue to look for various directions in the search for help and/or attention. We take on the challenges and always try to help each other, despite the limitations we all have. Life remains valuable and we will leave no one behind,” the artist explains the installation.
INFLUENCE OF PANDEMIC
The installation is a series of human forms wrapped in ‘gold’ and ‘silver’ foil blankets which are used in cases of emergency and or crisis. He is also in the process of mourning the passing of his beloved mother. “I just started painting again and I have no idea what the effect of this event in my life will have in the process of my work. The themes of death & love are still vibrantly present within. Covid is still the root cause of loss of life daily. This has triggered me to make this installation.” He can not deny the influence of this pandemic on his life, his work as well as the many activities he had planned. Many moments of fear, the many disturbing stories around the vaccine, even more so the many people dying, the inspiration and motivation to create, has decreased significantly. “But as I tried to work to keep myself occupied, I just focused om my students who where still able to come to class. I made a few works but not many as my inspiration just wasn’t optimal.” Until suddenly emotions stirred within, and inspiration struck, thus he decided to create the installation. “Human life is in the balance. And it seems as if it is just a fleeing breath. However human life is still valuable and yet these times also show us how fragile life is.”