Painter Pays Homage to the Beauty and Strength of Women through his Art
Updated: Jan 18
Wilgo Vijfhoven is an accomplished visual artist whose pieces depict for the most part a subject that fascinates him, women, and, mostly in the nude. Not only does he admire the beauty of women, the Surinamer is intrigued by their strength and resilience.
VRIJHEID 2 Mixed Media on Canvas 70x110 CM Photos provided by Readytex Art Gallery
During an interview with Caribbean Essence, the artist who was born and raised in Suriname shared “Women who end up being sole providers for their children, always manage to make ends meet. So while I chose not to cover up their outward beauty, I also want to bring attention to their inner strength,” Vijfhoven shared. Which is a unique perspective in a still very much male dominated society and industry, and an intention made clear when viewing his work. With his parents’ full support, Vijfhoven studied the arts at Nola Hatterman Art Academy in Suriname as well as Edna Manley College of the Visual and Preforming Arts in Jamaica. That in of itself is also quite unique given, most Caribbean parents are pretty traditional and prefer their children go the traditional route when picking a career, such as a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.
Vijfhoven’s work is permanently on display at Readytex Art Gallery. Monique W. NouhChaia SookdewSing, Managing Director of the Gallery, spoke highly of Vijfhoven’s artistry. “I’ve found that Wilgo Vijfhoven’s work especially resonates with young collectors. His use of red and yellow when he paints on canvas, and his depiction of the female body as a 'landscape' , remains a source of discovery and attraction for both the artist and the spectator. I am personally especially intrigued by the contrast of his other productions. Wilgo is a skilled draughtsman, a quality not obvious when you view his paintings. With his etches and his pyro drawings, the imagery is carried in a totally different way.”
VLINDER Acrylic on Canvas 65x145 CM
Untitled 4 Pyrography on Wood 39x71x22.5 CM
I asked Vijfhoven a few more questions to provide more insight about his career and what inspires him.
CE: What was your upbringing like, when did you develop an interest in the arts?
WV: I discovered in school that I had an interest in and talent for art. It is there that I found out that I could draw well. I remember that I even did the drawing assignments for other students in school once in a while, and even managed to earn some pocket change that way. I was initially planning to do a technical study, but in the end the pull of art was stronger. I really started my artistic development in 1988.
CE: What made you chose the route of becoming an art teacher?
WV: I don’t believe that there is enough being done with regards to the arts, especially painting. We need to stimulate creativity more. That is why I started teaching.
CE: Your works are sensual and mostly focus on women. How and what does your work aim to say?
WV: To me women are beautiful and sensual. I do certainly focus on these aspects, but their strength, and their strong characters are also of great importance. Because despite the challenges faced by many women all over the world, they manage to overcome almost any adversity.
CE: What is your creation process like, do you listen to music, sing, or eat?
WV: Music plays an important role in my creative process. I particularly like to listen to R&B and I am often inspired by it.
CE: About two years ago you began using the pyrography technique, what led you to explore this technique and what works have created using
WV: I felt the urge to try something different. I was inspired by the unique look of old and weathered wooden planks, and figured that I could achieve a similar look/effect by using a wood burning technique. I do the pyrography mostly on recycled pallet wood and also on existing wooden crafts.
CE: Where have you exhibited your pieces?
WV: I have exhibited in various countries, such as Suriname, Jamaica, French Guiana, and the Netherlands.
CE: What advice would you give to younger self?
WV: I would perhaps tell my younger self to also explore other art techniques in more depth.
CE: What are some fond memories of your travels or highlights in your career thus far that stand out to you?
WV: My exhibition in the Netherlands at the Nola Hatterman Gallery in 2002 was one of the highlights of my career. My work was well received and I got valuable feedback. And then of course, each solo exhibition here in Suriname, has also been an important milestone.
CE: Is there a particular painting that it was hard for you to part with?
WV: The truth is that I would actually prefer not to do away with or sell any of my paintings. I love what I do and love the work that I make.
Anisa 1 Acrylic on Canvas 20x30 CM
CE: If you could describe your artwork for someone who isn’t familiar in just a few words, what would they be?
WV: Bright, predominantly red and yellow paintings featuring subtle, yet sensual silhouettes of women often in combination with fruit.
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