by Josée Thissen-Rojer
The current COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up everyone’s daily lives to some extent and things are no different in the visual arts sector. In this series, we visit local visual artists and ask what changes they’ve experienced and how they’re dealing with the situation. This time, we are in Sta. Rosa with Papy Adriana, and our conversation takes place inside the classroom at ‘Adriana’s Academy for Arts & Science’, his own institute.
Girigorio Afelio (Papy) Adriana (Curaçao, 1956) is a self-taught visual artist. Drawing and painting have been his passions since childhood. Due to the harsh reality in which he grows up, it only becomes possible for him to develop his talent once he’s an adult. By studying painting magazines and through tireless experimentation, he teaches himself to paint.
Papy was born in the West Ronde Klip area. When he was 4 years old, his father died, and the family ended up in a precarious financial situation. At the age of 9, he goes to Kinderoorden Brakkeput and meets Sister Mathea (1927-2007) who’s in charge there. She discovers that Papy can draw very well and approaches musician Rudy Plaate, who ensures that Papy receives drawing materials and can take lessons with brother Piet Smetsers (1928-2014). Papy starts taking lessons and is filled with enthusiasm. But the classes were held in the late afternoon and his mother doesn’t like her 11-year-old son having to walk home alone in the dark afterward. To his great disappointment, Papy has to stop taking the lessons, and from that moment on, the process of self-development as a painter begins.
Papy grows up and makes his career in the banking sector. Initially, painting is a hobby that he practices in his spare time. But then he has a solo exhibition in 2000, with organizational help from Sandra Lewis-Nieuw and Lionel Janga. It takes place in Huize Halman, Otrobanda’s community center, and the exhibition is a big success. With paintings featuring Bandariba’s traditional homes and its residents, Papy puts himself on the map overnight. This is followed by more exhibitions, commissions, and invitations from abroad.
When Papy is 48 years old, he realizes that his talent has done something special with his life. Therefore, he wants to share his knowledge and skills and decides to offer painting and drawing lessons. In 2006 he establishes his own institute, ‘Adriana’s Academy for Arts & Science’. He develops an extensive curriculum with different levels, which culminates in a certification after 3 years. Papy is glowing with pride when he mentions that in March of this year an ex-student of his completed his education in Creative Media and Game Technologies at Saxion in the Netherlands.