02 Jun นิ/ราษฎร์: The L/Royal Monument
Eng | ไทย
นิ/ราษฎร์: The L/Royal Monument
curated by Chol Janepraphapan
at Art Centre Bldg., 1st-2nd floor
22 June – 31 October 2021
Opening reception: 24 June 2021, 1.00-6.00 PM
“…The memories related to 24th June 1932, an important date for the people, have been minimised and buried on a continuous basis. The loss of these memories’ physical components—names, plaques, monuments and even lives—coincides with a weakening of the democratic system, at a time when the people, as well as memories, are silenced or forced to disappear. Making plain what is too obviously displayed and uncovering what has been rendered invisible is an important act to preserve today’s spirit…”
Wittawat Tongkeaw, 2020.
สายันต์อัสดง (Dawn), 2021, Oil on canvas, 112 x 99 cm
Wittawat Tongkeaw is among the artists who have steadfastly stood for democracy. Through his practice, he is a story-teller chronicling social changes and crises befalling democracy today. Uncomfortable—at times frustrating—events are submerged in layers of paint that serve to conceal and reveal. Wittawat’s narrative style is an assemblage of elements in the form of metaphors and, although the intricacy he previously exhibited is downplayed, the traditional language of realistic painting continues to serve as a conduit for the critical messages inhabiting this body of works.
อาเพศ (Apocalypse), 2021, Oil on canvas, 112 x 99 cm
Through his use of realistic painting in this exhibition, Wittawat demonstrates the simplicity of this technique, employed to communicate both directly and indirectly. The L/Royal Monument conveys the artists’ outlook towards the evolving socio-political landscape in Thailand. Through his personal involvement in political activities, Wittawat observed a growing sentiment of frustration directed at the worldviews of a mainstream and authoritarian faction, the violence exercised on the people by a power both visible and which we have been coerced into regarding as invisible, restrictions imposed on freedoms of thought and expression, all the way to a paralysis where our perception and discernment are concerned. In truth, art cannot escape its ties to ideologies. However, this exhibition is made distinctive by the association of landscape and realistic painting, as well as photography, with socio-political themes–thus achieving a sublimation of meaning and bringing about a contemporary visual vocabulary.
ราษฎร์ประสงค์ (Intersection of Wills), 2021, Oil on canvas, 112 x 99 cm
These are artworks that function with our senses, sometimes violently. At times, their meaning is split apart and connects with viewers’ individual experiences. Their piecing together allows us to view a picture of today’s reality, wherein violence is covered by a veil of normality. Importantly, these fragments have already been implanted deep in our memories. While artworks that touch upon socio-political themes may not be able on their own to elucidate the entirety of a situation, Wittawat–through his examination of art carrying implicit political messages–draws from his personal journey and his encounters with political activities. With the passage of time, these relations settle and become manifest in his works.
ลุงบัณฑิต (To 121), 2021, Oil on canvas, 176 x 176 cm
The artist’s body is one medium which can act as a catalyst, activating the meaning of the image. Drawing any image is in itself an act of interpretation. Places and people featured in this exhibition, appearing both in the photographs and artworks, are located in ways that invite viewers to reminisce about the current political climate, as well as the social order it is tied to. Images depict roads, sites, people, constructions, all of which contain political history. They are places where certain events have occured; even if these took place not so long ago, the very existence of memories related to such events is history in the making.
ทนายอานนท์ (Captain Justice), 2021, Oil on canvas, 172 x 172 cm
If the body of the artist can explain certain situations and ideologies, then drawings and paintings may be depictions, or they may communicate meaning, criticise and act as political vehicles. Furthermore, Wittawat’s works are able to examine the contribution of art in the political discourse, reflecting the fact that one attribute of art is to be part of the contemporary and of history. The exhibition The L/Royal Monument is not merely a space in which political facts are hidden in drawings and paintings. This series of works is a recording that allows us to convey political implications; the latter occurs through the crafting of a surface coat of meaning which stands atop layers of paint. If metaphors are a substitution of meaning, they point to the existence of an authority which can conceal forthright messages. Wittawat Tongkeaw’s works, as realistic paintings and critical images, communicate parallel worldviews and a life which progress alongside politics and aesthetics; they form a site through which the encounter between traditional techniques and current events form a new facet of history.
The exhibition The L/Royal Monument will be on view at SAC Gallery from 22 June until 31 October 2021. The opening reception will take place on 24 June 2021 at 13.00-18.00. Map
For the entirety of the exhibition, please visit our Artsy Exhibition.
Open Hour: Tuesday – Saturday, 10.00 AM – 6.00 PM (Sunday is open by appointment)