Remy Jungerman: Higher Ground

Group visits

Remy Jungerman: Higher Ground will focus on recent works by Suriname-born Dutch artist Remy Jungerman (b. 1959), who lives and works in Amsterdam and New York. The exhibition includes a selection from Jungerman’s three major bodies of work: wall-hung or free-standing three-dimensional assemblages (which the artist calls “horizontals” and “verticals”), stacked “cubes,” and fabric-covered “panels.” Through these self-imposed formal constraints, as well as a limited vocabulary of carefully-chosen materials, Jungerman explores connections between pattern and symbol in Surinamese Maroon culture and European “modernism.”

For instance, “Horizontals” are composed of slats of varying length, width, and color, stacked atop one another and topped with small panels skim-coated with kaolin, a white clay from the artist’s native Suriname. Both abstracted altars and compositions that recall the orthogonal aesthetics of Dutch De Stijl, these constructions, like all of Jungerman’s carefully-considered works, draw seemingly disparate visual and cultural languages into conversation with one another. Through these works, Jungerman also poses a challenge to established art historical hierarchies the canon’s age-old denigration of non-Western art.

Jungerman represented the Netherlands at the 2019 Venice Biennale with Iris Kensmil. In 2017 he was nominated for the Black Achievement Award in The Netherlands. In 2008 he received the Fritschy Culture Award from the Museum het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands. Jungerman is the subject of a career survey show at the Stedelijk Museum, Remy Jungerman: Behind the Forest (November 20, 2021-April 10, 2022). The artist is represented by Fridman Gallery in New York, which organized Brilliant Corners, Jungerman’s first solo exhibition in the United States (April 7 – May 15, 2021). Where the River Runs, a comprehensive monograph of Jungerman’s work, was published by Jap Sam Books in 2020.

Jungerman’s exhibition Higher Ground will be sited in the KMA’s spacious Atrium, as well as in the Museum’s project gallery, a space for innovative contemporary installations. His work will also be put in dialogue with the KMA’s main summer exhibition, Tradition Interrupted. Comprised of twenty-three artworks and installations in a wide variety of media, from metalwork and ceramics to rugs and mosaics, Tradition Interrupted explores the work of international artists who merge traditional craft with contemporary ideas and processes. Jungerman’s assemblages and sculptures will therefore be shown side-by-side with artworks by some of the most important international artists working today, including Anila Quayyum Agha, Dinh Q. Lê, and Faig Ahmed. 

Artist

Suriname-born Dutch artist Remy Jungerman (1959) lives and works in Amsterdam. He attended the Academy for Higher Arts and Cultural Studies in Paramaribo, Suriname, before moving to Amsterdam where he studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy.

In his work, Jungerman explores the intersection of pattern and symbol in Surinamese Maroon culture, the larger African Diaspora, and 20th Century “Modernism.” In bringing seemingly disparate visual languages into conversation, Jungerman’s work challenges the established art historical canon. As art and culture critic Greg Tate has remarked “Jungerman’s work leaps boldly and adroitly into the epistemological gap between culturally confident Maroon self-knowledge and the Dutch learning curve around all things Jungerman, Afropean and Eurocentric.”

Born and raised in Suriname, he is a descendant, on his mother’s side, of the Surinamese Maroons who escaped enslavement on Dutch plantations to establish self-governed communities in the Surinamese rainforest. Within their rich culture, many West-African influences are preserved including the prominent use of abstract geometrical patterns. Placing fragments of Maroon textiles, as well other materials found in the African diaspora such as the kaolin clay used in many African religious traditions or the nails featured in Congolese Nkisi Nkondi power sculpture, in direct contact with materials and imagery drawn from more “established” art traditions, Jungerman presents a peripheral vision that can enrich and inform our perspective on art history.

Jungerman is co-founder and curator of the Wakaman Project, drawing Lines – connecting dots. Wakaman, which literally means, “walking man” was born out of a desire to examine the position of visual artists of Surinamese origin and to raise their profile(s) on the international stage.

He has exhibited works at the 58 Venice Biennial at the Dutch Pavilion; Prospect3, New Orleans; Brooklyn Museum, New York; El Museo del Barrio, New York; Hudson Valley MOCA, New York; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; New Jersey City University, New Jersey; Rennie Collection at Wing Sang, Vancouver, Canada; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Gemeente Museum, Den Haag; Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Museum Arnhem, Havana Biennale, Cuba; Museum Bamako, Mali; Museum Tromso, Norway; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; Malba, Buenos Aires; Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta; Gallery Krinzinger, Austria; Stedelijk Museum Aalst, Belgium; Musée Art contemporain, France; Air de Paris, France.

His International residencies include Art Omi and International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York. His work has been featured in numerous publications and acquired by various institutions and private collectors worldwide.

Also on view

Tradition Interrupted

The Rothko Room