'De tuin' (Dutch for ‘the garden’) is an installation of 27 pieces of wood with oil paint, which in its entirety occupies a space of 6 meters wide by 1.70 meters high.
These pieces of wood come from 3 kitchens that I disassembled in the period just after arriving in the Netherlands, during my first job that I found here as an immigrant. This period represents the beginning of my integration process in the Netherlands, which felt somewhat chaotic and uncertain. A period of adjustment to a new system and culture, where I sometimes had to give up my passion, art, in order to survive.
I decided to keep these 27 pieces of wood, destined for the trash, as a metaphor for my adaptation to a new context. The plants painted on these pieces are from official catalogs of the Dutch government on exotic plants. These catalogs distinguish plants from other countries into different categories: plants that survive in the Dutch environment, plants that are illegal in the Netherlands because they have no natural enemies and therefore threaten the ecosystem, and finally legal plants that are not invasive. During this period I have always wondered what kind of plant I am going to be.
Painting itself also has a strong meaning in this work. In fact, that was the most important goal for me at that time. It was a slow and mimetic process, in which I forced myself for several months to paint several hours a week, similar to a daily ritual. All I had to do was copy an image from a catalog. It was a way to clear my head during my first months in the Netherlands, where everything was chaotic for me and I had practically no time to think or produce much art.
When all 27 pieces are put together, they form an exotic garden in which the different categories of plants are difficult to distinguish from each other. In this chaos of categories, my own category, my new identity, is finally formed.