Kamin Lertchaiprasert at Tadu Contemporary Art, Bangkok (1997)
artdesigncafé - art | 5 October 2010
This article first appeared in ART AsiaPacific, 17, pp. 96-7 in 1998.
Pavilion Y is a space that combines a car showroom, a wine bar and bistro, and the Tadu Contemporary Art Gallery. Here Kamin Lertchaiprasert presented 366 symbolic “days”, representing daily feelings and expressions over a year-long period from 1995 to 1996, in an exhibition and work entitled Normal and nature.
For this first solo show at Tadu, Kamin Lertchaiprasert demonstrated his calling for presenting personal, self-reflective works, recording his daily experiences, both positive and negative, and those dealing with love and relationships, hope, peace, suffering, anxiety, fear, greed and lust. Each “detail” is presented in a comparable format: charcoal on paper, 35.5 x 100 cm, with text below in a symbolic and relatively simplified image. Drawing on his part-Chinese background, Kamin uses Thai writing as an elegant form of abstract commentary, writing vertically instead of horizontally.
Kamin Lertchaiprasert offers these works as contemplative experiences, allowing the viewer to consider his feeling and assessments; yet the work can easily move into the role of art as teacher and artist as example. In the catalogue introduction, Kamin writes: “I am of the belief that the process of creating art is a channel that allows me to realise the ultimate truth inside myself. Once we have seen this ultimate truth, we can then go on to discover the truth outside, in a process similar to meditation.” In these “days”, Kamin transforms his faith in Dharma and his experiences into simplified art products, and illustrates his previous and continuing concern with accessible form— in the case of this series, more so for those who can read Thai.
Each presented day is the result of a process which includes meditation— up to three hours— and an assessment of feelings as a means of coming to terms with them. Kamin Lertchaiprasert describes the process as comparable to the process of digesting food: “I pick subjects which will “feed” my spirits using the kind and impartial parts of my mind. I screen out all things than can bring me sinful thoughts.”
For Lertchaiprasert Kamin, art is therapeutic and he describes his process of artmaking as leading to a more conscious way of living and a direct expression of his religious being. In the detail “Eliminate the rubbish in your heart before that in your body”, Kamin uses a symbolic image related to his personal experience: the recognized impetus is the cutting down of a tree and the fallen branch left on the ground outside of his property.
As a means of providing works that could be sold more easily, previous works by Kamin Lertchaiprasert were presented in a separate room. Arranged chronologically, they acted as a visually accessible historical introduction to the current show. His use of artforms is diverse, including painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography and printmaking. With earlier works on view, the audience was able to see recurring themes in Kamin’s work: isolation; the use of letters— Thai and English— as inspiration and part of the artworks; his interest in creating large series; simple figures influenced by children’s art production, where the artist attempts to rid himself of predefined notions of right and wrong; and records of the element of time and examination of process and result.
In Normal and Nature, and clearly in the detail Dharma could be explained by the act not the words, Kamin Lertchaiprasert shows his concern with the process of the acquisition of new knowledge as more important than the product.