The island of Curacao is located off the northern coast of South America. The Dutch arrived here in 1634 and colonized the island for three centuries. Like other Caribbean islands slavery and colonization are thus part of its history. Curacao has 140.000 inhabitants and has become a melting pot of a great range of ethnicities. The influence of the Dutch was and is however still strongly felt in various ways, for example in historic architecture. Curacao is a small dot on the world map and counts 444 square kilometers. In 1954 the status of the island changed and Curacao became completely self governing within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Since the eighties and nineties of the twentieth century the visual arts of the island of Curacao have developed in an amazing pace. The number of art galleries has grown and artists’ initiatives have also enriched the cultural and artistic scene on the island. It is furthermore noticeable that more and more Curacao artists participate regularly in international art exhibits and biennials all over the world. The interest from abroad is indeed growing.
The panorama of the visual arts is extremely diversified in various ways. There is for example not one theme or one style that is predominant. And nearly all techniques and media are being practiced on the island. The variety in styles is astonishing. Aesthetics are of course very strongly intertwined with the artists’ own motivating force to express and to communicate.
Some are for example driven by the quest for beauty and harmony, while others have strong social and politically engaged issues to express. These issues are strongly connected to similar problematic questions that we find in the whole Caribbean region.
There are artists that have acclaimed international fame and others that are still searching for their own visual language and stand at the beginning of their career. In the mix of this all, the island of Curacao is the focal point of inspiration. This tiny island in the southern Caribbean and off the northern coast of South America has a lot to offer in the field of the visual arts.
In October 2010 Curacao will become an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The more reason to proliferate the island’s exciting world of visual arts on the worldwide web. Enjoy!
drs. Jennifer Smit
Art historian (born, raised and residing in Curacao)