Elis Juliana 1927 – 2013
Curaçao cultural icon Elis Juliana died in the morning of June 23, 2013 at the age of 85, just a few days after receiving an honorary doctors degree at the University of Curaçao. Òmpi Elis, as he was lovingly called in Curaçao, was influential in many fields like literature, culture, anthropology, archeology and the visual arts.
He enriched the local visual arts scene with his coral stone sculptures and drawings. His first exhibition was held in 1965 and many more followed after that, locally as well as abroad. His drawings and paintings always contained a message and some themes were recurrent, like the ‘mother and child’-theme. The drawing of the hummingbird feeding her nest, is symbolic for the relationship between a mother an child. His drawings were black and white, and he often applied a dot-technique to create the image and/or the different hues. His last exhibit was in 2002 at Kas di Alma Blou (now Gallery Alma Bou). His sight was deteriorating and he therefor knew that he had to stop making the fine miniatures.
Elis Juliana received many recognitions and awards during his life. He was awarded the prestigious Cola Debrot Prize twice, in 1973 for the visual arts. In 1994 CIFA organized an overview of his visual arts oeuvre in the World Trade Center (now ITC). For his 80th birthday Gallery Alma Blou published a deluxe edition of Haiku’s by Elis Juliana, with illustrations by José Maria Capricorne titled ‘Haiku den Lus di Animal/Haiku met Dierenstemmen’ (2007).
A saddened Capricorne reacts to the news of Elis’ death: ‘Elis Juliana had a love for his island and his surroundings and he showed us, in word and image, how to put that love to use. He was an intellectual by nature and advocated the recognition of the local language Papiamentu. Together with pader Paul Brenneker (1912-1996) he investigated the history, customs and traditions of Curaçao. Elis is one of the pillars of the Caribbean culture. I wish his family strength to carry their loss.’
Curaçao Art extends her condolences to family and friends of Elis Juliana.