Artistry in times of Corona. Yubi Kirindongo
by Josée Thissen-Rojer
The current COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up everyone’s daily life to some extent. In the visual arts sector, it’s no different. In this series we visit local visual artists and ask them what changes they are experiencing and how they’re coping with the situation. We start with the internationally known artist Yubi Kirindongo (Curaçao, 1946), whom we meet in his house/gallery on Ser’i Kandela.
In January 2020 Yubi created the work “Sangura”, inspired by “the nasty mosquito that transmits Chikungunya, because that’s also a dangerous virus”. We’re standing with Yubi in front of his workshop and he shows us several works that he is about to send off later that day to an exhibition at the Curaçao Museum. “Sangura” is among them. A bit further away sits “Balansa”, a white fist on a pillar. The fist grasps a metal tube with a metal plate hanging on either side, just like an old-fashioned scale.
Yubi tells that he has actually been very active during the lockdown, creating a new series of artworks featuring the fist. The “Moketa” (fist) has been a familiar theme in his work ever since UNESCO used it in 2009 to signpost the 1795 freedom fight route that was set out on the island.
This work was inspired by an expression that he heard over and over again on the radio programs that he listens to: “We must make a fist against this”. In this case, the fist is holding a pair of scales, though, to indicate that carefully weighing things is also important. He has given it the title “Balansa” (Balance).
“Kitoki” (carriage), made of the shiny chrome bumpers that Yubi is famous for, is also ready for transport to the museum. The work is back from “Art Zuid”, the prestigious Amsterdam Sculpture Biennial 2019, where Yubi was represented with four works.
That’s something that he definitely has missed in the past year: invitations to exhibit and work abroad, because he is no longer receiving those. The lockdown itself wasn’t a big problem for him because as an artist he likes to keep to himself a lot anyway. For Yubi, solitude is a companion that helps him with his creativity. “I only have to get out to do my groceries and pay my debts,” he says, laughing at how that sounds.
In recent months he was able to work well because there were few distractions and he had plenty of materials available. There’s no scarcity of chrome car bumpers and old machine parts. The sale of his works has stopped, though, and there are no visitors to his museum and sculpture garden. He now lives only on his pension and that’s hard because he used the extra income for the maintenance of the museum and to care for his dogs, among other things.
Yubi clearly feels the effects of the pandemic, but maintains his calm. In his opinion, we have to learn to live with it. Everything changes and you just have to go with the flow. He’s already used to wearing a face mask and a new situation also brings new opportunities. He wants to encourage his fellow artists to explore new possibilities: “Follow your dreams and don’t let the situation get to you.”
This article was previously published in Amigoe, on Wednesday December 9, 2020. Photographs by Edsel Sambo. This text may only be reproduced with reference to the source: Curaçao Art®️, www.curacao-art.com. Copyright of the artworks remains property of the artist.