Portret van twee jongens (initiatie/chirurgie)
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
This painting by Tiong Ang shows the heads of two boys, almost in mirror image. The heads are shown diagonally from the side; in the middle there is a large eye painted from the front. Above each eye there is a shape like a sort of lid to cover it. The work consists of three parts: two side panels and a central part which is about twice as broad. On the sides where the different parts touch they are rounded. A thin piece of netting is stretched across each part. This work can also be exhibited in different ways. The side panels can be hung directly next to each other, or separately from each other on two opposite walls. In that case the central panel is left out. The central panel can also be placed diagonally against a wall. In that case the side panels rest against it, concealing the middle part.
Ang often works with thick panels with rounded edges. He paints a scene on these based on photographic material and then stretches one or more layers of netting over it. The netting makes it difficult to recognize the representation, but at the same time attracts attention. The thickness of the panels and the rounded sides give the work a strong physical presence. In addition, the rounded edges give the work a sensual quality. The scenes shown on Ang’s paintings always run across the different parts, so that it is cut up in a way. In this way Ang refers to mutilation. During a trip in West Africa in 1990 he was fascinated by initiation rituals which were often accompanied by some form of disfigurement. The figures which Ang has painted here are also deformed: they have disfigured ears and eyes.
Ang asks attention for seeing, not only literal seeing, but above all, inner seeing. The enormous flood of images which overwhelms people on a daily basis through media such as newspapers, magazines and television leads to a deadening of the senses or even immunity with regard to what is happening in the world. Ang wants to provide a counterweight to this. Both the form of his work and the presentation invite the visitor to make room for a while to reflect on seeing and then continue, enriched. This 'Portrait of two boys' also focuses attention on seeing. When all three parts are exhibited together, you can see that the eyes and the covers over the eyes are wide open. If only the side panels are shown, the eyes are missing, but it is precisely this which evokes the desire to see.
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