Photos and story by Ricky Friedlander
On an old squatters’ hill by the airport, the Curaçao flag painted high on his roof was the beacon informing me of my arrival. The eccentric and captivating body of work visible behind the walls had me already excited to enter this compound of seemingly endless sculptures. It looks as if some creative genius had taken a scrap yard and fashioned a rusty, shiny, sparkling Garden of Eden.
That creative genius is Yubi Kirindongo.
His moniker “The Bumper Man” is an inadequate label that grossly understates his immense talent and incredible versatility.
Though we were a little hesitant at first meeting, it was not long before our characters balanced and we found some common ground in discussing everything from his art to politics, love and religion. His physique and untamable energy are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Yubi left Curaçao in his late teens as a stowaway. He stayed nine months on the ship and disembarked in Greece. He made it to Hamburg where he had a job taking bodies to the morgue and set out to become a painter. His first exhibit on Curaçao, in 1975 at Gallery RG, was a series of oil paintings.
He switched to three dimensional art when he discovered the creative use of chrome car bumpers. It was then that he created his first larger-scale work of art out of car bumpers.
Paint chips, computer chips, plastic chips, scraps of metal and anything discarded as garbage- this man has the talent to turn it into beautiful art. His fans and buyers have great appreciation for the ingenuity and rough simplicity of his sculptures. Part of his artistic produce is sold to tourists and foreigners from all parts of the world. The government of Curacao took to a great appreciation of his work by displaying them in public spaces like traffic squares and round a bouts on the island.
As I say goodbye, I cannot help but look at the photo on his wall of a smiling Yubi with his arm around the Queen of Holland. His work sits beside the masters in museums. And he sits in his castle in an old squatters’ village near the airport surrounded by his minions of metal.
Rebel in Art and Soul In 2014 Yubi is honored with a solo show in Museum Beelden aan Zee, in The Hague, the Netherlands. Yubi Kirindongo.
Rebel in Art and Soul showed is work from 1973 till 2013: 40 years of being an exceptional artist. The show ran from January 30 till June 1, 2014 and attracted 30.000 visitors.