To celebrate Bangkok Art Biennale 2018
MOCA celebrates the international art exhibitions— Biennales— by organizing Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 held in Thailand for the first time with group expositions, consisting of 18 national artists and new generation artists in total under the theme of “Faith Beyond Earth”.
Faith and beliefs are inseparable from Thai people as part of our inheritance. Originally, Thai people paid respect to ghosts, worshipped divine beings or devas, and believed in sacred beings until Buddhism was first propagated in Suvarnabhumi (the Land of Gold for the ancient Southeast Asia). The faith and beliefs are a result of what Buddhist teachings have combined with inherited rites. Therefore, rites of Brahminism, Buddhism, and ghosts are inseparable. For example, Thai people worship Buddha images, but at the same time they pay respect to divine beings and give sacrificial offerings to household spirits. The deep-seated faith and beliefs in Thai people’s spirituality are different from people in Asia. Thailand has remarkable rites which are so attractive to be discovered, particularly the western people who are curious to know about them.
The faith and beliefs— which are abstract, invisible, and intangible— are transformed into a concrete material through various forms of art works, conveying the meaning of the faith and beliefs nurtured in the spirituality of each individual artist. They grow and expand to art works. Some artists sarcastically present the faith and beliefs, while the others view them as accumulated merits. Darkness or brightness, satire, sarcasm, and a sign of the transformation from the abstract into the concrete— all meanings are differently conveyed by each individual artist’s imagination and interpretation.
The exhibition “Faith Beyond Earth” presents the faith and beliefs through art works created by 18 artists. We feel very honored to exhibit the works of two National Artists— Dr. Chalermchai Kositpipat and Mr. Panya Vijinthanasarn— as well as well-known artists and rising artists— Mr. Thongchai Srisukprasert, Mr. Roengsak Boonyawanichkul, Mr. Alongkorn Laowatthana, Mr. Chatchawan Rodklongtan, Mr. Thanarit Thipwaree, Mr. Krit Ngamsom, Mr. Manut Lao-on, Mr. Siroj Phuangbubpja, Mr. Palut Marod, Mr. Jakkee Kongkeaw, Mr. Verapong Sritrakulkitjakarn, Ms. Jiranan Julrabot, Mr. Warawut Tourawong, Mr. Teerawat Nutcharoenpol, Mr. Home-Sawan Umansap, and Ms. Parichart Suphaphan. On this occasion, it is an honor to have Mr. Tawatchai Somkong— the editor of the Fine Art Magazine— to be a curator for this exhibition.
The artist who conveys stories through spiritual symbols. Most of his works are based on religious beliefs and the puzzle of Dharma, leaving an audience to think and find solutions by themselves. From a collection of 75 pieces of the work called “A Gathering of Divine Beings or Devas”. A combination of the abstract and the concrete is set as the brightly colored background full of patterns as a result of splashes of paint. Then, the divine beings are drawn on the background. According to the Thai idealistic belief, a person who does good deeds and feels afraid to commit sins. When he dies, he will be reborn as a divine being.
Thai lacquer works or Lai Rod Nam which is considered the ancient technique of Thai craftsmen. For the lacquer works since the past, patterns are first drafted with lines drawn by the use of realgar.The work called “the Contemporary Tipitaka Cabinet No.10”, completely unfolds the stories inside the artist’s mind. the mutual conclusion through the three-sided Tipitaka cabinet: Lord Buddha, Dharma or Buddhist teachings, and Buddhist monks.
A print artist who tries to find her own way away from a printing press. She then chooses to use natural materials as her molds. Leaves, trees, vegetables, and fruits are used as main materials for the creation of works. the work called “Essence-Form”— the large form of the Buddha image affixed by dyed petals of mulberry paper, its weight determined by a process of light and shadow she chooses, and water-based dyeing by allowing dyes flow freely in water and then having mulberry paper dipped down as well as a dyeing process. In every step, the artist’s skills and her mental spirit are developed. This is a holistic concept of the Dharma, the nature, and the simplicity.
LED bulbs and transparent acrylic forms are used to convey kinetic art through both physical and emotional movements. The movements which an audience can have interaction with are uniqueness of the artist’s works. The horse combining the concept in the industrial revolution with the Buddhist belief becomes the work called “Kanthaka, the horse and the celestial being”. This work is a sculpture of an actual-sized horse. Its stainless surface can reflect the surroundings which change according to periods of time like beliefs and faith which change all the time. On the horseback, there is a sculpture in the form of “the simulated Buddhist pagoda-like palace”— representing the heavenly realm which Kanthaka is carrying.
A horse is used as an initial medium leading to the content of the main theme. In the artist’s works, appearing horses are transformed from ordinary horses into ideal forms. The content of all his works is relevant to the Buddhist philosophy as people nowadays view the life as it is— a suffering-laden cycle of life covered with a happiness-like feeling, and getting lost in the endless cycle of death and rebirth. The artist’s identity is the Eastern ideology which presents the Buddhist philosophy.
The creator of contemporary Thai art— both a painter and a sculptor. He has a concept of a path of human beings who are still in Samsara or a cycle of birth and death.Presented through art’s visual elements with surrealistic forms and shapes, the inspiration for the artist’s work called “the Mundane” comes from religious beliefs of Brahmanism, Hinduism, and Buddhism— the faith in tangible nature and intangible divine beings. In these work, the artist focuses on the Buddhism-based meaning of Brahma for being the main theme of communication by employing the figure of Lord Brahma Thai people are familiar with as the language of art in order to convey his thoughts and imaginations. The artist’s painting called “The Five-faced Brahma” belief that Lord Brahma has four faces and once had the fifth face stimulates imagination of anyone who thinks of Lord Brahma’s fifth face because the name only exists without a tangible or visible form. The sculpture of four-faced Brahma with a polished stainless steel surface provides reflections of the outside atmosphere and they then become part of the sculpture as well as increasing imaginative essence of multi-aspect meanings which convey a hidden message. The reflections on the surface— whether they are clear, distorted, or blurred— depend on from which angle we look at.
The painting of a woman in the Buddhist history— full of beauty and tenderness— combined with Thai architecture which promulgates the Buddhist stories is the signature of Mr. Chatchawan Rodklongtan. The artist’s work called “Mother Earth” or Phra Mae Thoranee receives inspiration from the effort to overcome the one’s own internal defilement. In the middle of the painting, there is Mother Earth whom the artist emphasizes her prominence by the light which is considered one of the artist’s uniqueness in his works. A frame of a window or a door is used in order to allow the light to highlight the painting’s main part to be more prominent than other parts like sculptors in the past did when the light was planned to come through the frames and emphasized the face of the Buddha image situated inside the temple’s ordination hall. Mother Earth in this work is then a symbol of endeavor, the accumulation of goodness, and self-dependence. It is a way that every man has to hold to in order to achieve his own main goals.
Most of the artist’s works are prints as well as printings. Stories or issues before him are used as his inspiration. The composition, colors, and symbols appeared in his works all reflect events the artist is interested in at that moment. The work called “Window of Curiosity” leads us to reconsider what happens in our lives and conditions to force us to do or not to do something. It began with a documentary which made him notice the differences happened to human beings and animals and also made him look back to think about a cycle of life or Samsara, religious beliefs that doers of good deeds will be reborn in a good plane of existence and being reborn in different planes of existence depends on the deeds the doers did in the past life. His work is divided into three connecting parts like hinges. The middle hinge conveys the birth of religions on earth filled with happiness and suffering. The right hinge is about the relationship between the religions and people when the religions begin to have an influence on people’s lives. They begin to worship and pray for blessings, and have faith to have worshipped offerings. The left hinge is when having more faith than the religion’s essence. Sacred objects begin to have more importance than the teachings. A question is then posed, “What do we worship nowadays?” When the stories from the three hinges are joined together, the joined story is that at the early stages.
The work called “Images of the Buddha on Canvas” makes us look back and ask ourselves inside a question of what beliefs and a religion are— what stays around us from the womb to tomb, what we firmly believe and follow? The essence of the religion is simplicity— the middle path or the moderate practice. The artist began with considering the simplicity and identities in his works and leaving his familiarity to experiments in order to look back to answer a question of his own beliefs. The texture of this work is different from every work he used to create. The simplicity is a key question. For the painting, he chose basic painting materials like gesso— a primer prepared for the surface of the painting— as his main material for the work’s creation like a reversal of all processes back to the beginning. Since this work’s process was newly designed, there were mistakes and changes. This time was considered learning and basic practice for his works of art again. For every brush he used and every rubbing mark for the even surface, he had to do step by step and there was not a shortcut.
The work called “The Heavenly Voices Heard in the Distance”, the artist presents a story of the birth of divine beings— starting from practicing perseverance as human beings who practice the Dharma until they attain mindfulness and discernment to the life after death which they have spontaneous birth or Opapatika, followed by being reborn as divine beings according to their accumulated good deeds. The artist chooses a woman’s body as a symbol. A woman symbolizes the virtue, the purity, and the wickedness. Apart from the woman as a main symbol in his work, the artist employs the complementary colors like white and black in order to emphasize the virtue and the wickedness more clearly. The white smooth and lustrous surface is created meticulously with the artist’s unique style, while the black surface is created with a new technique— the thickness of the paint and the use of brushes to make the uneven texture, and the form of continuous movements.
In the modern society, everything moves fast. Forms of worshipped figures are adapted to time. When a belief of praying for blessings is thought, one of the blessings people most pray for is trading. At that time, the image of Nang Kwak was a woman sitting on the floor with the legs tucked back to one side as a female deity, well-dressed, with one hand beckoning good fortune. However, nowadays, being well-and-sweet-mannered is not a selling point any longer. Her image’s adaptation to time in order to attract people accords with the artist’s style which emphasizes a woman’s beauty according to the idealistic view of people nowadays. Therefore, it is the inspiration for her sculpture called “Nang Kwak 2018”— a plump woman staring intently to gain attention in a sensuous way, and sitting on horseback.
His work called “the Brahma’s Realm of Form”, the artist focuses on providing inspiration for moral support for the audience; when we realize the existing problems, the best solution to the society’s problems is that we start defining the meaning for ourselves. It is the first start to build the livable society. The painting’s composition wants the audience to see the society’s whole picture and look deep down to details and dreams which have to be fulfilled as desired. Like blue fish we are holding, driving forces and self-confidence will completely transform blue fish into the real fish. In this painting, the artist chooses faces of people from diverse occupations in order to provide inspiration for the audience. A sculpture— which its inspiration is from the statue of Davis — symbolizes the completeness. Although it is the completeness everyone desires, dreams hidden deep inside are still wanted to find fulfillment.
The work called “Om” is his first woodcut of the respected figure which was modeled on a three-dimensional sculpture. When talking about a worshipped figure and a belief, he thought of Lord Ganesha first because when he studied at the College of Fine Arts, the worshipped father (Lord Ganesha) was the College’s symbol. The figure of Lord Ganesha in low relief on the gable which was ancient Indian art and its background led the artist to make a decision to have this figure of Lord Ganesha as his model. The woodcut modeled on this stone sculpture in low relief was his new learning— lights and shadows, the stone’s weight, frequencies and spaces of gouges carved on the wood— which determined lights and shadows. The making of woodcuts was a detailed process and differs from the making of other forms of art.
His work called “Because of the Mother Earth Is a Withness” is different from his past portraits. This work, color tones expressing the emotions are created by small hands of his two daughters. His girls are the main factor providing a balance for him. Apart from the large portrait emphasizing an audience to have self-discovery, the composition and symbols in this work are classified into the good and the bad by using facial features as a boundary— the part below the nose is all defilements annoying us so that we are suffocating; while the part above the nose is the light which is Lord Buddha, Mother Earth.
The artist’s work called “The Sea of the Moon” originated from the creation of a hundred clothes of Vessantara (the name of the Buddha in his tenth existence) which are paintings combined with screen blocks for the size of 1.40 meter x 6,000 meters. These clothes were distributed to communities nationwide in order to be used in processions in celebration of the Vessantara religious ceremony or the religious ceremony of delivering a sermon on the story of the last great incarnation of the Buddha in the fourth month according to the tradition of Isan (the northeastern region of Thailand). Although patterns appeared on these screen blocks are not clear as on the clothes contributed to the communities, traces of countless use appeared on the screen blocks can express the artist’s faith in the height of generosity from Vessantara Jataka which he created a hundred clothes of Vessantara. When we see the moon’s shadow reflecting on the water’s surface, we may see the moon’s beauty differently from turning face upwards to the sky.
In this exhibition, the artist chooses his new sculpture called “Fight for Freedom” in order to present human beings’ truth in the 21st century which everyone struggles for his personal interest while public interest is neglected. Citizens all are infatuated with liberty of living their lives, well-being, and a want of technological facilities too much. Fights over natural resources have caused the world to have conflicts, hatred, and a struggle for power over other people. “Fight for Freedom” is the three-dimensional sculpture which is developed from the artist’s two-dimensional painting. This work is full of many stories— the sculpture’s form is like a divine being’s sacred shrine for worshippers. The artist’s intention is to define the meaning of the forms by emphasizing the hall of thoughts, the divine being who is going out of the transparent hall and stepping out of a cycle of life, and the black structure supporting the hall. In the front, a golden painting is emphasized in order to convey a message of the senses.
A total of 26 paintings using crayons and chalks on paper in this exhibition are all newly created. A total of 26 paintings using crayons and chalks on paper in this exhibition are all newly created. The other set of his paintings reflects the artist’s state of mind to practice taming passion, lust, and delusion, and later let them all go— as the Buddhist faith in the instant form from the mind to the mind; however, it still maintains the gentleness of the artist’s unique style.