Tirzo Martha, Curacao 1965


Tirzo Martha’s urge and necessity to create art has its origin not in his ability to be creative but in his humanitarian and social engagement. As a child, Martha was not active in drawing or a creative person. He would respond critically to the conditions around him in his neighborhood. The decaying social conditions in his beloved neighborhood Buena Vista has troubled him day after day and so made him uneasy.
Although as a child he came from a comfortable home, he was still confronted with the reality of his neighbourhood on the streets and in his school. It was a reality that did not fit with the way that he envisioned how his surroundings could be. This clutch of contradictions continued to grow inside him and to reach a point where he lost control.
This brought him closer to what he has already seen in the past; Art. He saw in art the space and the infinite possibilities for strengthening his voice, and the urge to communicate.
Much like an anthropologist, he went into all the details that comprise the big puzzle of how people exist. Besides all of the oral and physical information that he gathered, he was also getting visual information that would be the point of departure for his artworks. He considered the living-conditions and the way people coped with their space and objects; their strength to visualise dreams, hopes, disappointments and states of mind. He would translate such information into ideas and structures that would become his body of work. This brought him to the installations, videos and performances that are very close to the living conditions and structures of the people. A big chaos consisting out of objects, materials and emotions are brought together in a baroque mold: a rough composition carrying the beauty of the people’s hopes and dreams. This voice is familiar but still has an unknown sound. Martha has undertaken performances and built his installations in public spaces, often in neighborhoods where his intention was for the work to fit in perfectly.

Solo exhibitions
2017 Solo exhibition Museum Beelden Aan Zee, The Hague, The Netherlands
2011 Afro-Victimize, The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, Miami
2010 San Juan San Pedro, Centre For Contemporary Art, Dordrecht
2010 Performance Captain Caribbean “The Conquest of the Netherlands”, Amsterdam
2010 Performance Captain Caribbean, “The Initiation of Captain Caribbean” National Heroes Park, Kingston
2008 The Republic Of The Caribbean, Instituto Buena Bista, Curacao
2006 “Made in Curacao with a Dutch Component”, intervention
2004 “Digestion”, Art Studio Insight, Aruba
2003 “Destiny; Shunning the Journey”, BCN Art Directe, Barcelona
2002 “De Drenkeling”, Center For Contemporary Art Dordrecht

Group Exhibitions

2017 Afrikaanse Bedienden Aan Het Haagse Hof, Haags Historisch Museum, The Hague, The Netherlands
2017 Transit project CBK Zuidoost, semi permanent sculpture The Triology of Trinity, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2017 All You can Art II, Kunsthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2017 Black Rebels, V2 Rotterdam, collaboration with IFFR, The Netherlands
2016 PERUSING THE PLANKS: SHELF LIFE, Galerie Nouvelles Images, The Hague, The Netherlands
2016 All You Can Art, David Bade & Tirzo Martha, Kunsthal Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2015 Open, Museum De Fundatie, Zwolle, The Netherlands
2015 Art Omi Open Studio, Art Omi, New York
2015 Moengo Art Festival, Tembe Art, Moengo, Suriname
2015 Biennial of Havana together with David Bade, Havana, Cuba
2014 Exploring the Past To Envisage The Future, Curacao Museum
2013 Tropisch Koninkrijk, Museum De Fundatie, Zwolle, Netherlands
2013 Zwart & Wit, Tropen Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2013 Miradas Insobornables, Centro de Arte Contemporaneo MUNTREF, Argentina
2013 Bienal Del Sur, Panama
2012 Happy Island, The Aruba contemporary art Biennial, Aruba
2012 Noordkap Tour, Noordkaap Artspace, The Netherlands
2012 Caribbean Crossroads of the World, Queens Museum of Art, New York
2012 Who MOre Sci-Fi Than Us, Kunsthal Kade, Amersfoort
2012 High Tech Low Tech, Oi Institute, Flamengo, Rio De Janeiro
2011 6a Bienal de Curitiba, Curitiba, Brazil
2011 The Global Contemporary. Art Worlds After 1989, Museum Contemporary Arts ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
2011 16th Bienal de Cerveira, Cerveira, Portugal
2011 Adios Holanda, WhiteBox, Munich
2011 In the Spirit, Inter American Development Bank (Staff Gallery), Washington
2010 Antepasado di Futuro, Museum di Korsou
2010 Vous êtes ici, Habitation Clément, Martinique
2010 1st International Triennial of the Caribbean, Museo Arte Moderno, Rep. Dominicana
2010 Art Pie, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam
2009 Licht aan Zee, Kunsthal 52, Den Helder
2009 Caribbean Crossroad of the World, Curacao
2009 Biënnale de La Habana, Habana Cuba
2008 Jorge and Jimmy and the Pirate Club, Gallery Metis-NL together with David Bade, Amsterdam
2008 Caribe Synthesis, Museo de Arte Moderno, Rep. Dominicana
2007 Dealing with reality, Museum of Modern Art Arnhem
2007 Infinite Island, Brooklyn Museum, New York
2007 Caribbean Crosscurrents, Art Miami, Miami

2015 Art Omi residency
2010 Special guest artist 1st Triennial of the Caribbean, Museo Arte Moderno, Dominican Republic
2010 Nominated for the International Fritschy Prize, Museum Het Domein, The Netherlands
2009 Cola Debrot Prize for culture; cultural prize by the Government of Curacao
2009 Basic Stipend granted by The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture
2003 The Reed Foundation Award, New York

2017 Commissioned to make a semi-permanent sculpture for CBK Amsterdam Zuid-Oost
2017 Commissioned to make an artwork for the exhibition Afrikaanse Bediendes aan Het Haagse Hof for the museum Haags Historisch Museum
2017 Commissioned to make a mural for the Dutch Embassy in Dominican Republic together with David Bade and IBB
2016 Commissioned together with David Bade and the IBB to make a mural for the new Dutch Embassy in Dominican Republic
2016 Commissioned to make a sculpture together with David Bade for the ING Bank Amsterdam
2013 Scout for the proposing of artists for the making of a new official portrait of the King of The Netherlands
2009 Commissioned by the commission West Indian Literature of the University of Amsterdam to create a portrait of Curacao writer and poet Elis Juliana
2009 Commissioned to build an installation for the Mai Foundation, Curacao
2008 Designed a sculpture and a poster for 70th Anniversary of Parliament of the former Antilles
2007 Commissioned to build an installation with objects of the National Archeological and Anthropological Museum of the Netherlands Antilles
2005 Commissioned by the Government of the former Netherlands Antilles to make an artwork for the Art Cabinet of the Queen of The Netherlands
2005 Commissioned to design a special coin to celebrate the silver jubilee of the Queen of The Netherlands

2011 Baumhaus, community Art project for The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, Maastricht, The Netherlands
2009 Commissioned to build 3 altars for an exhibition about religion in Curacao at the Museum of Anthropology, Curacao
2008 Commissioned to build an installation with objects from the 17th and 18th Century at the National Museum of Anthropology, Curacao
2008 Arte Swa/IBB art project in the neighbourhood Buena Vista with schools from this neighbourhood, Curacao
2007 Art project in Venserpolder to start a radio station for teens, Amsterdam
2007 Arte Swa project The Hague
2006 Cofounder together with David Bade, of Instituto Buena Bista, Curacao Center for Contemporary art, Curacao

Visiting Lecturer
2017 Tutor for the Masterclass Across The Board at Witte de With Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2017 Talk To Tirzo at Haags Historisch Museum, The Hague, The Netherlands
2015 Master class University Of Lisbon, Portugal, Department Of Art History
2015 Master class for the University of Leiden, the Netherlands
2014 Guest teacher CCA Martinique, Art academy
2013 Master Class and lecture at the University Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux, France
2013 Guest teacher at the department of Architecture of the University of Netherlands Antilles,
2013 Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean. A collaboration between The Open University of London and The University of Leiden
2005-2007 Guest teacher at the Masters of Art & Design Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam.