Remy Jungerman wins Heineken Prize 2022

We are proud to announce that visual artist Remy Jungerman is receiving the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art 2022. The jury praises the artist for the way he interweaves the cultures of the countries that define him: Suriname, the Netherlands, and the United States. By using geometric patterns and horizontals composed of panels varying of length, width, and colour, Jungerman creates a unique style and an extensive layering in his work. This form and connection of traditions offers the audience a new visual language that initiates a dialogue between disparate cultures.

The Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art is the biggest visual art prize in the Netherlands. The award was established in 1988 by Alfred H. Heineken to honour and encourage top talent in the arts in their development and to enhance their international prominence as artists. The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences is responsible for the nomination and selection process. Previous laureates include Ansuya Blom (2020) and Erik van Lieshout (2018).

Jungerman creates sculptures, paintings, and installations in which he combines elements from different cultures. Materials, traditions, and rituals from Africa and North and South America form the basis of his work and he incorporates them in a modernist way. Specifically, he draws much inspiration from the Maroons of Suriname, descendants of escaped enslaved people. He uses textiles from the Winti religion, which Maroons, among other beliefs and practices, adhere to, and kaolin, a porcelain clay used in this culture during rituals to purify bodies and objects. In his large installations, he also uses other materials from rituals. He wants to use the aesthetics of these materials to tell new stories.

Jury praises combination of different traditions

The jury, chaired by Patricia Pisters, professor of Film Studies at the University of Amsterdam, is impressed by the body of work that Jungerman has steadily built up. In his installations, sculptures, paintings, and prints, he repeatedly manages to combine visual elements from different traditions in original ways. Although visually abstract, the jury describes

his art as simultaneously physical and grounded. For example, in his work Visiting Deities, an installation around a long table of kaolin-treated blue-and-white and black-and-white chequered textiles, he uses Dutch river clay and water samples from the Amstel, Hudson, and Cottica rivers. Rivers on the three continents between which Jungerman travels. This layering makes the viewer think, according to the jury. Jungerman explains: ‘I thought it was important to install this table at the Venice Biennale. The Giardini, where the Biennale is held, has always been a glorification of the colonial past. There, all the rich countries could exhibit the wealth they had amassed from free labour through their colonies. As someone who comes from former colonial territory, I wanted to use the table to purify the space, and in doing so, to start the conversation.’

Follow-up research into Gee’s Bend quilts

Jungerman will receive €100,000 funded by a private fund, the Dr. A.H. Heineken Foundation for the Arts; half of this is earmarked for a publication and/or exhibition. The award will allow Jungerman to broaden his field of work. For example, in the United States he plans to research Gee’s Bend quilts, a type of blanket made by women from the isolated African-American community of Gee’s Bend. They use similar geometries to the early Maroon shoulder cloths from the previous century. Jungerman wants to discover what the similarities are and, in doing so, tell the great story of that geometric journey from the African continent to North and South America.

ABOUT Remy Jungerman

Remy Jungerman was born in 1959 in Moengo, Suriname
He lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Remy Jungerman 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 “Remy 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, Remy Jungerman is a descendant, on his mother side, of the Surinamese Maroons who escaped enslavement on Dutch plantations to establish self-governed communities in the Surinamese rain forest. 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 West African 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.

Remy Jungerman’s work is included in various collections: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, The Netherlands, Kunstmuseum, The Hague, The Netherlands, Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg, The Netherlands, ABN AMRO Collection, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Rennie Museum, Vancouver, Canada, Art Omi, Ghent, New York, USA, US Embassy, Paramaribo, Suriname, Hudson Vally MOCA, Peekskill, New York, USA, Francis Greenburger Collection, New York, USA, Saamaka Marron Museum, and various private collections.

In 2019, Jungerman represented the Netherlands at the 58th Venice Biennale with a the impressive Visiting Deities installation. Later that year, the artist had his introduction exhibition Neap Tide at Galerie Ron Mandos. In 2021-2022, Jungerman had a solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, titled Behind the Forest.

Visit the website of the artist here.