Proposal for a Museum of Contemporary Art

On Friday at the opening of the art exhibition at the National Archive, a modest crowd of art lovers waited patiently outside and while we were waiting for the door to open we were treated to a good story.

Apparently, a European art collector, a distinguished gentleman with white hair, Jan Mol, has been coming to Aruba for many years and has gotten involved with the Eterno Foundation.

Remember that name??

I do. It was an art gallery in town, managed by three aspiring artists Osaira Muyale, Renwick Heronimo and Giolina Henriquez. Our collector was impressed with their work and started supporting their endeavors, as they were swimming upstream, in Aruba of 1995.

Fast forward 20 years of friendship.

A few years ago, Mol offered to gift his own art collection, his privately-owned contemporary stash of paintings, photographs, collages and sculptures to ARUBA as the corner stone of a National Contemporary Art Museum.

We were tasked with finding the suitable building, and he had interesting stuff to hang on the walls.

Then five years went by and nothing happened. The collection was collecting dust at ANA. I don’t even want to ask how many e-mails he sent, and how many calls he made, to question, to find out, what’s the delay, what’s the obstacle.

Finally, last Friday in a modified ANA, the Proposal by Fundacion Gast opened, and Jan Mol was in the audience, he looked pleased. He was there with curator Gijs Stork, who pushed and shoved and made it happen, with Angelo Tromp pulling strings in the back.

They set up ANA to look like an under-construction exhibition hall, very effectively.

The collection reflects the eclectic taste of its owner, and it features five local, and many good regional and international artists.

I loved the smallest work best, a portrait of a howling, sweating man by Elise Tak, very powerful.

Alicia Framis presented a series of photographs, an intrusive look into the life of a couple, she is a Spanish artist who lives in Amsterdam

Our own Darwin Winklaar presented an installation where he was washing his hands off his own sins, a very somber and religious contemplation on the subject of mother/son relationship.

Merijn Bolink’s investigation into the structure of a heart, resonated in a similar heart investigation by Natusha Croes.

Efrem Angela, an experimental photographer, was supported by a dozen of his aunties, they worship the ground he walks on.

Emmanuel Botalatala is an African artist with a universal political and social message, very well understood in Aruba. I would like to meet him one day.

Striking photography by Chelsea Peterson in color, and Michel Francois, in b/w.

I couldn’t look at the work of Yael Davids, she sewed finger nails together. It is the first work you see as you enter, I guess that’s how Jan Mol felt all that time, with his pile of individual objects unintentionally creating a collection for Aruba, buried in the dark.

But it is out in the open now.

Worth a visit during office hours; here until January; we’d better start looking for a building.

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August 28, 2018
Rona Coster
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