Roddney Tjon Poen Gi was born and raised in Suriname. As an artist he works with many different materials that can be found in Suriname nature, such as mahogany wood, and stone for carved sculptures. “With my work I want to inspire people to look at all the materials this country has to offer instead of buying expensive materials from abroad.”
In Suriname I am most well known for the sculptures I create from natural materials especially pieces of driftwood (Art Trouvé). Suriname with its colonial history including slavery and the subsequent immigration of laborers from all over the world is a wonderfully diverse country with many cultures, colors and flavors. I personally also have ancestors from many different cultures. This is an element I incorporate in my ‘Art Trouvé’. These washed ashore pieces of driftwood with their unique structure and whimsical shapes to me represent the identity of not only he Surinamese people, but basically also the Caribbean identity. Just like the driftwood, the many different people now living in the Caribbean, once uprooted from different places all over the world, came ashore in a new land where they have built a new identity, a new colorful community that is highly diverse and unique. In the colorful designs I paint on the driftwood I incorporate signs and symbols from all the different cultures represented in Suriname. The shapes of the wood created by nature and the elements, challenges me into discovering some hidden or subtle object within or to create an interesting abstract object, which I then further enhance by the abstract designs I paint upon them. Each is unique, colorful, exuberant and expressive, my own artistic representation of the Surinamese and the Caribbean identity.
With my art I hope to create awareness within the community that with a little bit of creativity and inventiveness a lot can be achieved. If more people would take the time to actually look at and truly observe their surroundings, they too would discover the wealth of materials that nature has to offer.