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FRIDAY, December 01, 2023

Ashes are circle of life in Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai's paintings

Ashes are circle of life in Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai's paintings
THURSDAY, December 29, 2022

Fire and ash have been at the centre of Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai's art practice for the past 10 years. The artist’s solo exhibition at Kukje Gallery in Seoul is a place where visitors can contemplate death and life.

The gallery’s K3 space appears to be a completely different space from the rest of the gallery – the floor is made from compressed ash mixed with earth and paint, making visitors feel as if they were standing on volcanic rock. Prayer text is sculpted into the floor, which the artist said is like subtitles to the show.

“(A prayer) is almost like the promise that may never be fully fulfilled, but then until it's fulfilled, it's also not broken,” Arunanondchai said at the press preview on Dec. 15. “So, it's something that's in this state where it's neither-nor, and that's the kind of feeling I have towards spirituality or even art itself.”

The prayer includes: “We create this world through unanswered prayers/ There is a splendour beyond the upheaval/ A nostalgia for unity/ In the landscape of mourning/ Give yourself to the air, to what you cannot hold.”

While the artist has displayed video work at the show since 2014, his inaugural show at the gallery focuses on paintings from his two series -- “History Paintings” and “Void (Sky Painting).”

“History Paintings” use bleached denim as the primary material. On the denim, Arunanondchai builds layers of paint and photographs, which are remnants of a fire. He sets paintings on fire and photographs them as they burn away. The remaining fragments of the paintings and their resultant ashes are reassembled with photographic documentation.

“I started to work with bleached denim, partly due to the idea of its relationship to Western globalism, specifically America. I heard the saying that the first minute you paint on canvas you enter a Western history, and I am always aware that being a contemporary artist, everywhere in the world, we, as a non-Westerner, engage in something that is other than us, and then it becomes us,” he said.

Korakrit Arunanondchai (Kukje Gallery)

"(Denim) also feels like the texture of the Earth or something that you look from far away, almost as you are in the plane looking on the texture of the Earth itself," he added.

 "Who Will Testify to the Time when the World Was Ablaze?" by Korakrit Arunanondchai (Courtesy of the artist, Kukje Gallery)

The artist's first solo exhibition in Seoul, “Songs for Dying and Songs for Living,” took place at Art Sonje Center in October. His video installation “Songs” was shown at the 13th Gwangju Biennale in May.

"Image, Symbol, Prayer" runs through Jan. 29 at Kukje Gallery.

The Korea Herald

Asia News Network