In her close-up still lifes of fruit, flowers and mundane objects, often with the presence of water, Manuela Tjin A Soe offers us a rare moment of reflection in today’s hectic lifestyle. Depicting her subjects with meticulous detail, she conveys her sense of wonder and fascination over them, thus enabling the viewer to examine more than they would normally care to do.
Manuela Tjin A Soe was born in Paramaribo, Suriname in 1979. Her interest in the arts began in childhood. Inspired by various illustrations, tv cartoons and even collectible bubblegum stickers, she started drawing when she was only three years old. In later years she discovered the wonders of the natural world, during walks and chores in her family’s garden at home or during visits to the outdoors, The latter which is impossible to imagine without the beautiful scenery of Suriname’s tropical rainforest. From these visual experiences she drew inspiration for later drawings and paintings.
Although Manuela became interested in the arts at a very young age, she did not decide to pursue an artistic career until two years after her pre-university secondary education at the Ewald P.Meyer Lyceum. At this point in time she was working at a wholesale company as an administrative employee. Remembering her love for the arts she resumed her education and enrolled at the Academy for Higher Art and Culture Education(AHKCO) in the hope of developing her artistic skills. At the academy she learned of the great masters and after seeing works of painters, such as Charles Bell, Chuck Close and Ben Schonzeit, she was introduced to Photorealism. She studied under established artists, namely Ruben Karsters, Glenn Fung Loy and Dani Djojoatmo. Meanwhile at the company, after learning about her artistic background, she was offered a job to become the firm’s graphic designer which she gladly accepted . In 2008 however, she left the company to focus on her visual art studies which she completed with a BA of Arts in drawing and painting in 2009 and has been pursuing her practice ever since.
In 2011 she was asked by the owner of the Museum of Fine Arts Paramaribo to join a group of well-established artists for a group-exhibition on occasion of the festive opening of the museum .
In 2012 she became a member of the Federation of Visual Artists in Suriname and took part in their various activities, including the Artist Talk Project later that year, which consists of different works of art by different groups of artists, all displayed in Nickerie. In 2014 she contributed to the Giant Painting which can be admired in the Departure Hall of the Johan Adolf Pengel Airport in Para. She also participated in the federation’s group exhibitions at the Heritage Festival at Fort Nieuw Amsterdam in Commewijne in 2012 and at the Fiesta del Fuego in Santiago de Cuba, in Cuba in 2014.
From 2009 till 2015 she exhibited at the annual National Art Fair of Suriname.
Her paintings are in private collections in Suriname and abroad. Her work is also owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Paramaribo and the Diapura Dialysis Center in Commewijne.
In 2013 Tjin A Soe received her teacher’s degree at the Advanced Teacher Institute(IOL) and has been an art teacher at the Algemene Middelbare School since 2014.
She has also worked as a freelance illustrator for the Basic Education Improvement Project(BEIP) of the Ministery of Education, Science and Culture(MinOWC).
Tjin A Soe focuses on the spiritual oneness of her subjects. She creates works of art that echo her journey to understand the richness of color, complex shapes and intricate reflective and transparent surfaces of the mundane. Larger-than-life objects are revealed as intriguing and complex shapes with often exquisite textures. She entices us into a magnified world of the mundane, a cosmos that reveals to us that in the most ordinary things the divine and the extraordinary can be seen and felt.
Manuela Tjin A Soe’s work can be described in the genres of Photorealism and Hyperrealism. Although her art relies on photography, she goes beyond the photographic creating a more intensified painted illusion. At first glance her paintings may look like photographs but a closer look reveals her loose and lineair brushstrokes. Also her use of color demonstrates her artistic point of view is that of a painter rather than that of a photographer.
Although Tjin A Soe’s main-focus is on nature’s still life, she also holds a strong interest in promoting awareness of preserving nature and all its inhabitants, as seen in some of her recent paintings .
Manuela currently works and lives in Paramaribo, Suriname.