Tracing the past - An insight into Thai contemporary art scene -

Tracing the past - An insight into Thai contemporary art scene -

2016 11.25 - 2017 1.14

Opening Reception
11.25 (Fri) 18:00 - 20:00

Press Release

Place: nca | nichido contemporary art
Date: Friday 25th November, 2016 – Saturday 14th January, 2017
Gallery hours: Tue - Sat 11:00 - 19:00 (Closed on Sunday, Monday and National holidays)
*Winter holidays: December 30th ~ January 9th
Opening reception: 25th November 18:00 - 20:00 *coffee provided by Nestle*

Dusadee Huntrakul | Torlarp Larpjaroensook | Soichiro Shimizu | Tawan Wattuya

nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present Tracing the past, our very first group show introducing Thai contemporary art scene. The exhibition shows the works of 4 artists who are based in Thailand: Dusadee Huntrakul, Torlarp Larpjaroensook, Soichiro Shimizu, and Tawan Wattuya. It is our encounter with the artist Soichiro Shimizu, who has been living and working in Thailand for the past 13 years, that paved the way for this group show. Each of the artists on view have studied or maintained professional relationships outside Thailand and thus can maintain an objective view of the country despite the political turmoil and multi-ethnic conflicts they have been surrounded by over the years.
Their work tells us their stories, sometimes their memories, through a unique lyrical expressive power while constantly looking at Thai’s current situation.

Thailand remains under military rule since General Prayuth Chan-o-cha seized power with a coup d’etat in 2014 and appointed himself leader of the country. General Prayuth’s rule continues political turmoil for now a decade. Two popularly elected governments were officially dissolved during this time and major public protests resulted in a military crackdown in 2010 where eighty-five people died and hundreds were injured. The most recent coup d’etat is the 12th since 1932, a watershed year in Thai history when Siam’s long period of royal absolutism ended with a bloodless takeover by a small group of French-educated civilian and military figures. Since that time the emergent nation – named Thailand in 1939 – has seen over thirty prime ministerial appointments as the decades unfolded with government-infighting, volatile relationships between civilian and royalist groups, failures of democratic policies, the shifting status of the “free world,” the growth of communism in Southeast Asia, and shape-shifting tendencies for nationalist rhetoric, amongst manifold other pressures.
The current political situation in Thailand is allowing a re-entrenchment of various institutions to maintain vested interests, a re-writing of the constitution and a re-structuring parliament to pre-empt the possibility of a return to power of the type of administrations that were freely elected since the turn of this century.

Dusadee Huntrakul’s expressive works on paper and small objects highlight and intersection of the personal and collective. Some of the works were not created by the artists but exchanged over the years with family and friends. These artworks are a means to maintain memories and connections while relationships often shift, change or disappear. Highly metaphoric, the sometimes surreal forms beg us to think of the multiple traditions that objects and images can belong to and insist on our common humanity for memory and emotions. Also included is Dusadee’s epic Tracing Aihwa Ongs Buddha Is Hiding, where the artist traced, and framed individual pages of, the text of this account of the experience of Cambodian émigrés in the US and their negotiation of a foreign culture. Here the creative, intellectual, and experiential meet in Dusadee’s rendition.

Torlarp Larpjaroensook’s assemblages of found objects similarly possess an appearance of strangely compelling forms. Torlarp is interested in the devotional use of different objects in Thai homes, as Thailand is a deeply animistic country. In these works, he intersects ideas of superstitious worldviews with notions of invention and change and many of his works suggest a practical function. How can we change as a society, he asks, and what beliefs should we continue to uphold or not?

Soichiro Shimizu’s paintings are highly deceptive in their detailed surface effects: illusionistic yet textural and abstract yet deeply associative. Importantly, Soichiro blends the traditions of his transnational background, between a Japanese consciousness of craft traditions and European and American expressionist art. In this respect his works reflect on limits and differences while inviting us to move beyond such. However, the artist’s interest in minutiae but on an epic scale links him to the practices of many Thai artists who ask us to look close while also suggesting we stand back, as if contemplating an expansive temple mural.

Tawan Wattuya is a highly prolific painter who brings our attention to both the beauty and pornography of popular media imagery. Famous in Thailand for his painterly provocations, for Tracing the past he skewers his home country’s social hierarchies with speedily produced works that depict street dogs and the ladies of beauty pageants. Tawan’s art asks us to consider the stereotypes and contradictions of contemporary Thailand, the culture’s love of beauty, particularly famed Thai women, and yet also the existence of terrible poverty and abject neglect which is symbolized by the dogs.

Brian Curtin - Southeast Asian Art Critic

Dusadee Huntrakul is based in Bangkok and a graduate of University of California, Los Angeles, and University of California, Berkeley. His group exhibitions include Beneath the Moon/Sous la lune at Palais de Tokyo in Paris and Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore (2015-16); Fertile ground: Art and community in California at Oakland Museum of California (2014–15); Memorandum, at Bangkok University Gallery (2014); 4th Singapore Biennale (2013); and Nuova (arte) povera, Osage Gallery, Hong Kong (2012).

Torlarp Larpjaroensook is based in Chiang Mai and a graduate of Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University. In 2008 he established Gallery Seescape (Alternative Art space) in Chiang Mai and in 2009 he set up a mobile gallery project called “3147966” in collaboration with other international artists. His solos exhibitions include Bookshelf at 8Q Singapore Art Museum. He was in residence at the Koganecho Bazaar Yokohama Project in Japan (2015) and exhibitions include: The Journey of Switchhead: Hidden Lab, Siam Center, Bangkok (2015); The Journey of Switchhead: Send Mom to The Moon, Gallery Seescape, Chiang Mai (2015); and Northern light, Arteral, Sydney (2012).

Soichiro Shimizu was born in Japan and is based in Bangkok. His exhibitions include a solo exhibition at the Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive, Italy (2016); New Works, YenakART Villa Gallery, Bangkok (2016); Kalopsia, RMA Institute (2015); Sculpere, Adler Subhashok Gallery, The Art Center Chula, Bangkok (2014); Yoshii Gallery, Paris (2001); Itochu Gallery, Tokyo (1999); Elysium Gallery, New York (1998); and Caelum Gallery, New York (1998). He has also shown at Art Stage Singapore (2016); Art Taipei (2015) and New York Independent Art Fair (2000). His works are in the collections of Shu Uemura Cosmetics Company, Tokyo; Dowa Kasai Insurance Company, Tokyo; Sony Headquarters, Tokyo; and Sony Plaza, New York.

Tawan Wattayu is based in Bangkok and a graduate of Silpakorn University. His solo exhibitions include a Peculiar Nature, The Lodge Gallery, New York (2016); When Water Beats, Artetplus, Paris (2015); Like a Virgin, Alliance Francaise, Brisbane (2014); Tii Tai Krua, Chula Art Center, Bangkok (2013); Okinawa Part II, Tsuchi Gallery, Naha City, Okinawa (2010); and Siamese Freaks, Numthong Gallery, Bangkok (2007). His group exhibitions include: Prudential Eye Award Contemporary Asian Art, Art science Museum, Marian Bay Sands, Singapore (2016); Anthropos, Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York (2014); Delirium & Obsession, Tang Contemporary Art, Bangkok (2013); BUKRUK – STREET ART FESTIVAL: The Thai-Europe Connection, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (2013); Cut Thru, LASALLE Collage of the Arts, Singapore (2012); and 3 Young Contemporaries, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Kuala Lumpur (2008). He has completed residencies in Beijing, Copenhagen and Okinawa.

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