Monday, 23 August 2010

Please Donate Your Ideas for a Silpathorn Artist

. . . said Navin Rawanchaikul on the occasion being awarded the Silpathorn award this year under the visual arts category. The Silpathorn Award is created by the Ministry of Culture and is granted to artists of various disceiplines from visual arts to film to architecture. P'Juke Aditya Assarat is the laureate under the film category.

I arrived at the ceremony extremely late, it was over, having got stuck in traffic for 2 hours on our Champs Elysee (Rachdamoneon avenue), however, it was definitely worth going to see P'Navin's work, it is a curious and rather touching though extremely simple piece. . .no tuk tuks nor baloons this time around, not even a pa kao ma.

As a condition of receiving an award, it is required that a Silpathorn laureate creates a piece of work - P'Navins creates a work which in turn creates more work as it asks questions, specifically about art . . .

He then asks us, as the viewer to donate our ideas and ask him questions, to be written on postcards which will be mailed to him. All the cards were taped on the wall, I had a lot of fun with this. There is something satisfying about being able to engage with a piece of "art", to leave one's mark.

The conversation starts with a letter from P'Navin to his Ajarn or Master, the late Montien Boonma in honour of his late master. A high priest of Thai contemporary art, his paintings abstract in nature and exploring a realm which prior to his works were mainly figurative, a touch of arte povera Thai-style. A master, truly. The letter to his Ajarn is sentimental, explaining the state ofart as it is today to a man who did in his way and through his works inspired it. . . explaining why there is no tuk-tuk, thanking his master for his influence and guidance. A humble, letter of gratitude and respect which goes back to a certain tradition where the artist is first an apprentice as he learns, it goes back to the roots and suggests that always there is a source, and always there is a story. It is a deeply touching one-way conversation which he has with his master, an expression of his thoughts and gratitude, it is to honour his Ajarn.
Whilst preoccupied with drawing rainbows and asking P'Navin questions in my postcards and stamping them with more questions, I was so preoccupied with the activity that the thought process did not occur to me . . .art can also be about art, about questioning the very purpose of this thing called art, espeically when it has been institutionalised and the dialogue is created by a public body. It is not just about beauty anymore but thought, and really what is it all for? As there is no good painting about nothing . . .this simple installation is not about nothing even if there is no sensational va-va-voom motorcycles or pastiches. The minimal presentation speaks much clearer, as does his letter than any elaborate show which lists and dictates not giving any room whatsoever for the viewer to think or digest, or breath.

I was very happy to make my donation and then eventually go for dirnks and dinner, the customary Kao Tom with P'Navin and friends. I love that in Thailand it is not about going Pastis or the Rivington but our equivalent for after vernissage/show dinners for friends and supporters is the late night kao tom place, where the make-shift table goes on and on.

Then to more drinks at a little Cafe which is also a gallery called Tood Yung (mosquito butt) owned by French lady called Mimi. Lovely little space. I particularly enjoyed having a convo with the new head of the India Cultural Centre, Renuka and P'Jeab Gridthiya . . .the grand matron of Thai contemporary art, a curator and head of the Jim Thompson Foundation, and rightly so she is inspiring and spot-on, she is proof that intellectual discourse is important, as is context and the source. Thank goodness P'Jeab and P'Albert exist. I felt very inspried.

Thanks again P'Navin for a great show and congrats . . . and even if you don't have a chance to answer my questions or read my postcards, I'm glad I had a chance to think about it a little and make a little donation.

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