Norma van Elburg-Jessurum was born in Suriname (1938) but soon went to Curaçao, which was then the capital of the Netherlands Antilles, and when she was old enough to go to the Institute she went to the Netherlands. There she met her husband and father of her children, whom she married in 1963. So the Netherlands was not the prosperous, open and modern country it is today: they did not know Elvis Presley. A surprise for Norma who came from the Caribbean, where a strong influence of North American culture was felt, although on the islands of Curaçao, Suriname and Aruba a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and the language that came from Africa with the slaves (Papiamento) was spoken. As her husband was a senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she soon began her wanderings through different countries in America: first in the Netherlands Antilles (between 1975 and 1983), Mexico (1985-1990), Chile (1990-1994 ). In each new destination, Norma improved her pictorial work by learning from local artists. In Curaçao with Luigi Pinedo and in Santiago de Chile with Juan Calderón, Natty Parera and Hernán Larraín. The latter would be a member of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute of Chile in Santiago.
Among Norma van Elburg-Jessurun’s teachers in Curaçao was the famed painter Luigi Pinedo. In this press clipping, the local newspaper reports on July 31, 1995 of the “Artistic Adventure in the Museum” of Curaçao, with the presence of the painter Luigi Pinedo, the writer Guillermo Rosario and the pianist Johnny Kleinmoedig, who translated into musical notes the colors of Pinedo.
From his long career we have selected for this exhibition works from some particularly relevant series, such as the one corresponding to portraits, flowers, some abstract… The portraits, which are taken “from nature”, are particularly striking. This is, on the basis of photographs, taken with the consent of the protagonists. In some cases with a bit of reluctance, which has been reflected in the portrait, which is ultimately the best of all. There are men and women from Chile, Mexico and Guatemala, where Norma traveled regularly while living in Mexico. These are portraits with an extremely classical composition, like those painted on commission. Although in this case there has been no commission, but interest in reflecting the world that she had around her. They are not just landscapes.
Among all the selected works, one from 1993 stands out very strongly. It has no title, it is painted in Santiago de Chile. It consists of a vase with some flowers, some apples on the table and a plaster head. At that time she was receiving classes from, among others, Hernán Larrain, a painter with cubist influences and in general from the Vanguards of the first third of the 20th century. There she learned to make “glazes”, an essential technique when painting with white. The result has a metaphysical air, between Cezanne and Chirico.
Some of the paintings in the exhibition, from the still life series, appear to be unfinished. They are displayed unframed to reinforce that effect. They are pastels on paper (a technique that Norma normally uses in her portraits). The paper is sometimes rough cut. None of this detracts. On the contrary, she speaks to us about the drive in the hand, about a lifetime moving to the work.
In 2002 Norma moved to Spain, to El Moralet, a district in the municipality of Alicante, characterized by the way in which the parceling of the land has been carried out, originating from four large farms owned by local landowners. It lacks a recognizable center since the school closed in 2008 (now only the hermitage of San Antonio de Padua remains). An area mostly of foreigners, passersby, fairgrounds… who are looking for tranquility, the climate and an arid landscape of a very contemporary beauty.
From El Moralet Norma has been integrated into the cultural and artistic life of Alicante. She belongs to the Association of Alicante Artists, within which she participated in the exhibition “Creating together 2015″ that took place at the Fish Market; as well as in other exhibitions, at the Casino Mediterráneo, in 2011, where she showed her series of portraits of men and women from Mexico, Guatemala and Chile; in the municipal exhibition hall of El Pinós, in October 2005; at a solidarity auction in 2020 to raise funds for the beneficiaries of the Afrikable association. Etc. In addition give painting classes at her residence. Her works are in private collections in the US, France, Argentina, Switzerland. She is represented by the gallery ROMMY’S GALLERY, based in Barendrecht (next to Rotterdam), which, among other represented artists, mediates recent graduates of the Nola Hatterman Academy of Art in Suriname, through the promotion and sale of works of art at rommysgallery.com.
“Retrospectief” by Norma van Elburg–Jessurum can be visited at Fundación La Posta between March 3 and April 1 (during Fallas week the room will remain closed). During that time there will be a musical evening, on a date yet to be determined. As in the “artistic adventures” in Curaçao.