Born in a chaotic society, immersed in today’s ever transitional change, I try through art to make sense of human bondage, how to cope with colonial heritage of disgraceful exploitation of human beings. During the process I experienced the wonders of a magnificent Amazon rainforest.
Suriname was a colony exploited for the benefit of European Colonials. Indigenous people were conscripted as slaves. The dwindling supply of natives was replaced by people from Africa. When transport of Africans was forbidden the shortage was replenished with shanghaied indentured laborers from China, then India and last from Indonesia. To all the descendants the Colonial heritage is a disturbing saga.
“…to be the object of contempt or patronizing tolerance on the part of the proud colonizer is one of the most traumatic experience that a individual or society can suffer…”, Isaiah Berlin.
The subjects I have captured in art exemplify efforts of people surviving and their exceptional will to change the humiliating heritage of human bondage.
I sense in many a tolerance of their fellow human beings and a willingness to reach out. This tolerance is a young fragile plant now sprouting in the rainforest plantation, displaying constructive civil interactions.
Name: Paulus L. K. Woei A Tsoi (Artist Name: Paul Woei)
Place of Birth: Paramaribo
Date of Birth: May 31, 1938
Residence: Rozenbergstraat 4 Paramaribo
1948 My family visited China where I came in contact with an artist Ng who taught me my first art lesson.
1952 Returned to Suriname and completed St Paulus RK high school in 1956
1957 Study art in Amsterdam, Holland.
Koninklijke Academie Den Haag and Normaalschool ( later renamed Rietveld Academie) in Amsterdam.
1958-1966 until my return to Suriname in 1966, participated with various exhibitions in Amsterdam, Delft, Leiden.
1966 I convinced myself that I should leave behind the “modern” perception of life and go back to the magnificent rainforests in South America, to the basic life of exposé. The instinct to survive and adaptation of man to the rainforest and plantations, has been my best inspiration source. Went along with expedition to paint in the rainforest and villages of the indigenous people and Aucan, Saramacca tribes.
1966 Together with other artists, we founded the first Art Academy in Suriname to facilitate the talented.
1967 Group exhibition of Surinamese artist in Amsterdam and other cities in Holland.
1971-1998 Taught Art expression until retiring at a junior college “Atheneum”, Paramaribo-Suriname
1975 I was awarded an Honorable Mention in Denver, Colorado for my mahogany sculpture named: Human Sacrifice”. This sculpture was also part of a sculpture exhibition in New York City.
1981 At request of the Department of Cultural Affairs, I established an “Art Expression Department” for the very young. These children, saddled with the burden of a colonial heritage, could at school freely express themselves. Selected drawings were often sent to international children exhibitions in Japan, Taiwan, India, China, USA and other countries. Many of the children won international awards and were an inspiration to all. This school was later renamed by me after a Dutch lady in honor of her pioneering work in Suriname – “ Nola Hatterman Instituut”.
1996 Group artist exhibition in Het Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam.
1999 I compiled a video autobiography by using my file photos, paintings, sculptures and video materials which I have accumulated over many years. This unique biography reveals the wonders of the rainforest, the ceremonies of the indigenous people (rarely performed) and my resulting paintings and sculptures of these subjects. This documentary captures the imaginations of the audience and surprisingly became acollectors item. A second video, documenting the process of bronze casting, was released one year later.By invitation from Changchun City, China, I modeled the sculpture “The innocense”, in 2003. This 2 meter bronze sculpture is no won permanente display in Changchun Sculpture National Park together with 300 international sculptures.
- Invited to China to create a life-size sculpture in the National Changchun Sculpture Park
Provide information and serve as a resource person on areas of art and history on the Indigenous people of Suriname and Chinese contractors who first came to Suriname and the Caribbean.
Dutch, English, Hakka Chinese, Sranan Tongo; French and German at primary conversation level.
Interest and hobbies:
Ancient and Indigenous culture; reading; classic and folk music; photography; traveling to rain-forest jungle.
Compiling photo materials from my art works of recent years and writing short stories on how these works came to be. Photos as well as short stories will be published in my art book.
1990 – present: Rotary Club Paramaribo
One Man exhibitions
1966 -1971- 1985 – 1994-1995-1996-1997-2000-2003- Suriname
1969 -1985-2000- Holland
2002 –Brickel Ave Hall, Miami, FL. USA
2003-present: Art Gallery Paul Woei, Paramaribo, Suriname
2005-present: Torarica, Paramaribo, Suriname
2011 Inter-American Year of Culture, OAS Marcus Garfey Hall, Washington, DC
1956 -1961- Suriname
1963 – Prinsenhof, Delft – Holland
1966 – Nationale Kunstbeurs, Paramaribo – Suriname (every year until 1980.)
Again in 1990 and my last participation was in 1999)
1967 – Arti & Amicitia, Amsterdam-Holland (as well in other cities for the next two years)
1968 – Galerie Cojean, Scheveningen- Holland
1972 – First Caribbean Festival of Art, Guyana: CARIFESTA
1975 – Colorado University, Denver, USA (Art & Crafts exhibition of the Americas. Honorable mention)
1976 – CARIFESTA, Jamaica
1978 – Bond van Beeldende Werkers, Het Park, (co-founder) Paramaribo – Suriname
1978 – Theatre of Manaus, Brasil
1979 – Sculpture Fair, New York, NY. U.S.A.
1979 – Bond van Beeldende Werkers, Het Park, (co-founder) Paramaribo – Suriname
1981 – Gallery Egidu, (co-founder) Paramaribo – Suriname
1981 – CARIFESTA, Barbados
1983 – 17e Sao Paulo Biennal, Brasil
1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992 – (Founder Suriname Artist Association) Surinaams Museum, Paramaribo – Suriname
1986 – Cayenne, French Guyana
1987 – Cayenne, French Guyana
1991 – Telesur, Suriname Museum, Paramaribo – Suriname (co-operate)
1993 – Volkenkundig Museum, Rotterdam – Holland (initiator)
1993 – Gallery INKT, The Hague – Holland (initiator)
1994 – Surinaams Museum – “Encounter Suriname – Holland”
1995 – Gallery Egidu, Paramaribo – Suriname
1995 – CARIFESTA, Trinidad
1995 – 20 years Suriname, Ford Zeelandia Museum – Suriname
1996 – 20 years Suriname, Stedelijk Museum – Amsterdam-Holland
1997 – Trade Fair And Culture Of The Caribbean Basin – HYATT-Miami
1999 – Nationale Kunstbeurs – Paramaribo, Suriname
2000 – World Festival of Art in Paper – Kranj, Slovenia
2000 – Celebrating 25 years Independence of Suriname – Fort Zeelandia Museum, Paramaribo, Suriname
2002 – Broward County West Regional Library –Florida, USA
2002 – Palm Street Art Studio – West Palm Beach- Florida, USA
2003 – Sculpture Garden Changchun, China
2003 – Ballroom Hotel Torarica – Suriname
2003 – CARIFESTA – Venezuelan Cultural Centre – Paramaribo- Suriname
2004 – Hotel Torarica, Paramaribo, Suriname
2005 – Denmark
2005- Rainforest expo, Paramaribo
2005 – Nationale Kunstbeurs, Paramaribo
2005 -1.) Trinidad Museum, Port of Spain and 2.) Denmark , Stockholm
2006 – Zweden
2007 – Hotel Torarica, Paramaribo, Suriname
2008 – Nationale Kunstbeurs, Paramaribo, Suriname
2009 – Loge Volharding, Paramaribo, Suriname
2010 – De Hal – Amazon Conservation Team, Paramaribo, Suriname
2011 – La Bodega Wine Bar, Coral Spings, FL., USA
2012 – De Hal – Paramaribo, Suriname
2012 – National Kunstbeurs, Paramaribo (Honorable Mention )
2013 – Carifesta 2013, Paramaribo, Suriname
2013 – Benefiet Expo, Amsterdam, Holland
2013- Nationale Kunstbeurs, Paramaribo, Suriname
2014 – Exhibition Palace of Nationalities – Beijing, China
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