The Making of an Artist: A new publication looks at the work of Felix de Rooy

By Sasha Dees Monday, December 3rd, 2012 Categories: Book launch, Features, Updates

Two thousand-twelve marks the 60th birthday of Felix de Rooy (Curacao, 3 November 1952), forty years of which he has spent as a teacher, visual artist, curator, writer, theatre and film director. A new publication, “Ego Documenta,” celebrates his career in 208 pages that provide an overview and complete catalogue of his works.

Felix de Rooy

While working as an art teacher at Peter Stuyvesant High School in Curacao, Felix founded a production company for the arts, “Illushon Kosmiko,” and met his partner in love and in art, Norman de Palm. He slowly, but naturally and inescapably, transformed from being a visual artist and teacher to an artist defying category. The times were exciting: a bustling worldwide economy, the sexual liberation of the 60′s, the black power movement, the first commercial flight of the Boeing 747…  the two men were a product of their times, living an artistic lifestyle, openly proud of their gayness and blackness.

Felix de Rooy 'Anime Veritas'

Meanwhile, the world began calling, and the two men answered by launching themselves internationally. They travelled to New York in 1980 and Illushon Kosmiko was renamed Cosmic Illusion. In New York Felix earned a masters in Film at New York University, with Norman co-writing and producing his student film, “Tur kos bon na New York.” Among his classmates were filmmakers Spike Lee and Ernest Dickerson, who later would be his Director of Photography on their 1990 Dutch Oscar-winning film Ava & Gabriel.  After his studies they decided against living in America and ended up in Amsterdam, in the mid 80′s, where Felix still works and lives. The two men were at the vanguard of multi-culturism in Holland, spearheaded by Soeterijn director Otto Romijn. They joined a small group of artists that  began the process of changing the Dutch monoculture forever; among them Mike Ho Sam Sooi (Gado Tjo), Vasif Öngören and Meral Taygun (El Kapisi), Astrid Roemer (Bruin brood en spelen), Anis de Jong and Nel Lekatompessy (Delta), Orsyla Meinzak (Djombo Abra), Rufus Collins (USA), Henk Tjon and Thea Doelwijt (Suriname). Egodocumenta provides an overview of Felix’s work, and reviews about the work, during their Cosmic Illusion time. Of note: Felix continued to be the multidisciplinary artist at heart but the emphasis during his first decade in Holland was on performing arts and film.

The Artist and his Muse


When the artistic couple went their separate ways, Norman continued to run Cosmic Illusion. Felix continued as a freelance artist and bagan his career as a curator. The Negrophilia Collection had been started by Rufus Collins and was given to Cosmic Illusion, which Felix curated and managed throughout the 80′s and 90’s. The collection was turned into the exhibit “White on Black,” for the Royal Tropical Museum in Amsterdam, with an eponymous publication by Jan Nederveen Pieterse (Yale University). The Negrophilia Collection tells the history of European and American stereotypes of black people, a major theme throughout Felix’s career of multidimensional history-grounded work.

Las Tres Potencias

The book can be ordered for 34,50 euro by KIT Publishers, ISBN 9789460222092. Concurrent exhibitions will be held in Amsterdam, Suriname and Curacao.

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Sasha Dees
Sasha Dees

Sasha Dees is an independent international curator and cultural producer. She is a contributing writer for ARC Magazine, Africanah and Trendbeheer.