There is something particularly intriguing and haunting about Thai artist Uttaporn Nimmalaikaew’s work. By painting several layers of fine netting, the 33-year-old artist who won the prestigious Sovereign Asian Art Prize in 2006, creates images that appear to vary or even disappear depending on the viewer’s position.
One of his giant installations, a man sitting on a chair was shown recently at Art Stage Singapore, and the exciting artist will soon have a new solo exhibition, “Dukkha: The Imagery of Suffering,” at Yavuz Fine Art. The exhibition comprises mixed-media portraits of eight of the artist's family members, each in a different stage of their life, and he seeks to explore the concept of 'dukkha,' a Buddhist term that describes suffering caused by constant change and the unavoidable truth of life.
BLOUIN Artinfo talked to the artist about his practice and the upcoming exhibition:
When did you start using your current technique?
I started this technique around 2001 when I was still studying at Silapakorn University in Bangkok. It really came about by accident. I was living and working in the university studio and had a mosquito net there. One day, I noticed that there was a spot of paint on the mosquito net and I started to see the possibilities of this material. It is similar to painting on canvas, yet different, so I started experimenting to see how much I could get out of out of it.
What did you discover?
What I found in this technique was the way a two-dimensional painting can create the extraordinary effects of three-dimensionality. The effect of seeing through the tulle and creating layers of oil painting gives it an interesting volume.
How does it work?
Well, each process might be a little different depending on the work, but mainly it starts from a digital drawing of twisted lines in human form. The digital drawing is then printed life-size to set the base form and texture. The following layers are painted in oil color in the “tulle-painting style.” Over time, I have learnt that the tulle demands a different way of creating realistic light and shadow for the material. The top layer gives details for the optical illusion. Then I connect each layer with clear copolymer line to make it all fit together and create depth in the image.
For your new show, you’ve opted to present family members. What did your parents say when they saw themselves this way?
They are a little fearsome of my art but at the same time they think it's really different from anything they have seen. My parents don't really understand much about art, but they always support me.
Tell me about the overall concept of this specific exhibition?
"Dukkha: The Imagery of Suffering" is an exhibition showing how life is. In their daily lives, people will suffer from how they live their lives, the future that cannot be seen, or the physical changes due to aging. I present this topic through my family, the people that I love, in a way that seems to pause them in time. I like the fact that family is the smallest unit in society, but they are the details of the big picture. The sufferings I'm showing are the emotions or feelings that stay deeply inside everyone. Life as a Buddhist is about understanding body and mind, learning to accept, keeping balance, and finding the way to peace. Suffering arises because the consciousness and intelligence never grow on the ground of sadness. There are many examples in society of people who are lost in their suffering, holding thoughts that never lead them to anywhere. This exhibition presents these fragile moments, to allow people to perceive and think over it.
The exhibition will run March 8 to April 6 at Yavuz Fine Art, Singapore.