On September 14, a new exhibition of work by Amorn Pinpimai was opened at artThailand’s Livin’ Gallery in Bangkok. Twenty new paintings, mostly oil on canvas, are featured. The exhibition will be open for viewing until October 14. Vivid and bold in the use of color, shape and form this new work of Amorn is, in our opinion, his best to date. Early indications suggest that the media, art buyers and the Thai art community agree.
Why not take a look at the full collection at blog.artthailand.net/gallery/index.php?level=collection&id=3 [http://blog.artthailand.net/gallery/index.php?level=collection&id=3]
You will also find some fun pictures from the exhibition opening at the same address. I did edit out the more outrageous ones but I will be adding the after-party pictures soon and those I know are outrageous!
Born in 1968 in the north of Thailand, Amorn Pinpimai is now based in Bangkok working as a lecturer in the Department of Arts at Valaya Alongkorn Rajabhat University (and no, I can’t pronounce the name of the university either!).
Jovial, shy, yet at the same time larger than life, Amorn comes across as one of life’s nice people. He lacks ego, he is charmingly polite, you sense he is more comfortable in the calm and peace of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai than the hustle of Bangkok, and yet he paints with passion, vigor and verve.
He paints not just what he sees but what his imagination and emotion allow.
I can tell three rather amusing stories that kind of sum up Amorn’s attitude to life. First, I mentioned that he is really quite a shy man. Well, though I searched hard, out of 171 photographs taken at the exhibition opening yesterday, I failed to find a single one of him. Quite how he managed to keep himself away from the camera I don’t know. I am notoriously camera shy myself and yet found myself in over 20 pictures.
Second, if you look at the picture here on the right you can just about tell that it is painted on two canvases. I was intrigued so I asked him why. He said something like: “Oh Khun Adam, I woke up one morning and I had the idea for this painting. I knew I had to start it then or I would lose the thought. I searched all over my studio but I couldn’t find a canvas the right size. So I decided to use two canvases.” I love it! It is so classically and wonderfully Thai.
Interestingly, however, this picture seems to be the most generally admired of the whole collection even though it is not the artist’s personal favorite.
Third, you may notice that almost all of Amorn’s work features the female form. Convinced that there must be some dark, symbolic reason for this I once again asked him, why? The reply was fast, to the point and unemotional. “I prefer women to men.” Ok, well that’s clear. Guess I need to start looking for my symbolism somewhere else!
So let’s talk a little about his work and what he is trying to say to us. Most of Amorn’s earlier work has been using acrylic on canvas. This is his first major collection of oil paintings. Having started his career using blends of white, black and gray, he has gradually evolved to a much wider range of color, and I feel that oil has allowed him the freedom to be much bolder in his use of color. For me color is on of the most important parts of any painting. I love color blends and Amorn’s are some of the best I have seen in a while.
The title of the collection is “In the Dream”. It’s a theme that he has been exploring for a long time. On the one hand he tries to answer the question of what dreams say to us? On the other hand he believes that the interpretation of a dreams is less important than the sensation of the dreams themselves and the emotional response they induce in us.
As Amorn says himself: “What if we just listen the sounds that echo silently after the moment of a dream? What if we use our dreams as an invitation to enter a mysterious universe where answers and explanations are less important than the sensations themselves.“
Amorn does not look for answers or solutions. He compares his working process to a state of meditation in which his imagination and creation are aroused by quietly listening to the breath from his lungs and the beat of his heart.
Ok, but does this mean anything or is it nothing more or less than pseudo-babble? Well actually yes, it does mean something and something that is quite important.
What Amorn is trying to say is that it doesn’t matter what was in his mind when he created a work because each of us will interpret a piece of art according to our own interests, prejudices, desires, emotional state and so on. In this noisy society where art often suffers from too much meaning and analysis, we often forget that art, above all, creates space for reflection, contemplation and silence, almost as if we are observing a dream.
Some of you may know that I am very passionate about the work of Antoni Gaudi. I can’t really explain why except to say that his work heightens my senses, allows me to forget everything else around me and that it “speaks” to me. Does it matter that I can’t explain?
I say no and Amorn agrees. His point, again, is that the interpretation of a dream is less important than the sensation of that dream.
There is one technique he uses that explains the point very well. You will notice that he uses a number of very common figures and symbols, including the moon, snakes and birds. So I asked what do these symbols mean? His reply was interesting because he said, “I can’t tell you.” Well that didn’t help me much so I pressed the point. “Ok, Khun Adam, here is why I can’t tell you. You are English. You are Christian. For you the snake probably has association with the Garden of Eden, with original sin, with betrayal, deceit and mistrust. I am Thai. I am Buddhist. The snake has a very different meaning for me. The same is true of all the symbols. Our response to them depends on so many things….socio-economic circumstances, experience, attitude, culture. I could go on forever.“
So, unlikely though it may seem, here we have an artist brave enough to admit that what his work says depends on what you think it says, which further implies that whether you like it is up to you and not up to the art establishment to determine.
I like it! It’s a refreshing attitude. Too often I feel that we are told what we should like and treated like imbeciles if “we don’t get it”. I like the attitude but I also like the work. It’s rich in color. It makes me feel warm and comfortable. It’s a little mysterious. It’s soothing and calm.