Finding Freedom in the Abstract
Finding Freedom in the Abstract

Magic Mango continues to highlight local artists in Aruba. Our spotlight is on Suelyn Dankerlui, an artist who finds inspiration in nature.

Sometimes an artist finds their voice beyond the constraints of the classroom. Growing up on Aruba, Suelyn Dankerlui attended art class during her school years, but could not quite find the creative inspiration that came so easily when she was outside and enjoying nature.

“I didn’t like art class and all the rules…you have to draw this, you can’t color outside the lines… so I didn’t think I was creative,” Suelyn shares. She did, however, begin to uncover her creative urges when outdoors in Aruba’s mondi. “I could lay down and watch the clouds for hours—the way they moved, the limitless ways they could change shape, the contrasts…I loved that sense of freedom and the unpredictable beauty of nature finding its way,” she continues.

Suelyn muses that her appreciation for nature reflects her attraction for the abstract. In fact, it was years later that she picked up a paintbrush and was able to unleash this creativity. “I was living and studying in Holland and one rainy, depressing day when my sister, who was in art school, went to class, I asked if I could play around with her art materials…it was the first time I didn’t have someone standing over me and telling me what or how to paint, and I’ve been painting ever since.”

The artist’s signature style really came to fruition about a year after the birth of her first child. “I had this need, an urge to do something for myself, to channel my feelings and thoughts,” she explains, “and I think subconsciously this is when I linked feelings to art and I realized that I needed the colors, the textures—these things brought me the feelings that I craved: tranquility, calmness, peace.” Suelyn understood she could put these emotions on canvass, and that she didn’t need to paint a person or a tree, but to paint her feelings as an expression of herself.

Suelyn is now one of Aruba’s up-and-coming artists, with her work displayed in restaurants, resorts, and many private homes on the island. Her affinity for nature brings a favored palette of colors like beige, white, brown, and a myriad of blues and greens, as well as layers of texture and various techniques all taking life on canvass in an ebb and flow that feels both intentional and unpredictable at the same time.

Cheers to the freedom of expression and living life magically and colorfully outside the lines!