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TO SEPTEMBER 13
In 1667, Britain traded colonies with the Netherlands: The British got Manhattan Island in exchange for Suriname, which remained under Dutch control until 1975. By then, Manhattan had become the world’s artistic capital. Suriname, in contrast, was better known as a leading exporter of bauxite. Over the past couple of decades, however, Suriname has been narrowing this cultural gap, exporting works of art as well as minerals. “In Search of Memory: 17 Contemporary Artists From Suriname,” a major survey of art from the tiny South American island nation’s cosmopolitan contemporary art scene, showcases 45 works that range widely in medium and style, reflecting the complex mix of African, Indian, Portuguese, Javanese, Dutch, and indigenous cultures present in Surinamese society. Rudi Getrouw, perhaps the eldest member of Suriname’s contemporary school and its most widely known export (his work is in New York’s Museum of Modern Art), produces lively collagelike oil paintings exploring the diverse elements of Surinamese identity. Carlos Blaaker combines sharply observed, expertly rendered figurative painting with handwritten text and collage, producing powerful, enigmatic canvases. German-born printmaker and watercolorist Anita Hartmann, one of the youngest artists represented, works in a simplified post-expressionist mode; her disturbing engraving series Slavery Times is something of a Surinamese counterpart to Jacob Lawrence’s great Migration of the Negro series, presenting horrifying historical scenes as if they were pages from an illustrated children’s storybook. Through Sept.. 13 at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Cultural Center Gallery, 1300 New York Ave. NW. Free. (202) 942-8287. (Leonard Roberge)