Cultural development programme
Mini museum for two people
Can’t be greedy… You gotta take some, and leave someJames Brown
Quentley Barbara (CW, 1993) was raised in Curaçao and graduated from the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, in 2018 with the impressive installation The Foreigners, a life-size family portrait made from seemingly worthless materials such as cardboard and gaffer tape. Through this work, Barbara sought ways of connecting with his family. ‘Most of my family are electrical engineers. They initially rejected my choice to become an artist because they wanted more financial stability for me. I wanted to make a work of art that they would understand and be proud of.’
Barbara is making a new work for CHAPTER 1NE: a captivating portrait of his childhood friend Hesus who, in his teenage years, gradually became entangled in drug crime, resulting in several years in prison. With this work, Barbara reflects on the sometimes oppressive group dynamics of his youth and how this has effected the divergent life paths of his comrades.
Just as with The Foreigners, Hesus is also an attempt to bridge not only a physical, but also a social and relational distance. The artwork reflects the limited opportunities for young people in Curaçao to develop themselves and the corrupting influence of peer pressure within this. Simultaneously, it is also a personal gesture of respect from Barbara towards his friend, in which the intimacy of friendship is translated into patient and excellently executed handwork.
Edson: ‘Making something out of nothing — that’s done beautifully here, reusing materials that seemingly no longer have value.’
Guillaume: ‘The work is based on close family ties and friendship. Quentley comes from Curaçao, which shares some similarities with our own Surinamese background. We have a piece of shared history and shared reality, and the story behind this artwork is recognisable to us. We also have family members and friends whose lives didn’t work out as well as our own.’