Revisted < > Departed
15.02 - 07.04.2019
Revisited < > Departed by Navin Rawanchaikul, a well-recognized artist, who marks his long overdue return to the Thai capital. Curated by Worathep Akkabootara, the exhibition is weaving the artist’s intimate stories with two of the artist’s most influential figures in his life—his father and his late teacher, the renowned Thai artist Montien Boonma. This intergenerational exhibition is showing the comprehensive archival display employs intimate biographic narratives and associated personal artifacts to relate newly created works with seminal pieces from the artist’s extensive oeuvre. Revisited < > Departed is about excavating life’s chronicles to make sense of existence from those who shape, but ultimately depart from it. This reflective practice is indeed a recurring sequence of which one revisits and departs throughout one’s life. Penned for great admiration and honeycombed with private memories, Rawanchaikul has written three letters to Boonma in 2010, 2013 and 2018 which serve as a focal point to the exhibition. The artistic merit of letters is not a sole object but an entire performance that involves (re)writing and (re)reading to revision about what has departed. With the industrious studio team Navin Production based in the artist’s childhood home of Chiang Mai, Rawanchaikul’s last appearance in Bangkok came in 2008 with the mid-career retrospective Navin’s Sala. Since his early 20s Rawanchaikul has propelled us on an intimate autobiographical odyssey that often blurs fact with fantasy. His works have incorporated a versatile range of media including grand portrait painting, sculpture, comic books, found objects, sound, video installation, interactive elements, and community engagement. He has exhibited at many of the world’s most important art stages, with his work housed in key international collections. Rawanchaikul has always acknowledged the perennial influence of his undergraduate teacher, the late artist-educator Boonma, and he has paid homage to Boonma on several occasions. Revisited < > Departed is his most concerted tribute to date. In the early 1990s, Rawanchaikul became a former assistant to Boonma, who encouraged Rawanchaikul to produce radical socially engaged art interventions. In 2013, 13-years after Boonma departed, Rawanchaikul revisited his teacher’s family home in Nonthaburi. Also serving as Boonma’s studio in the final stage of his life, the space is now renovated as the archival Montien Atelier under the management of his family’s estate. The deifying encounter led Rawanchaikul to draw parallels between his artistic mentor and the close paternal relationship with his own father, culminating in a new body of work revealed in Revisited < > Departed. As well as debuting previously unseen works, the presentation also incorporates pieces from his celebratory 2015 multi-platform exhibition A Tale of Two Homes held in Chiang Mai. Then the artist sifted the abandoned relics of his former boyhood home above his father’s fabric shop, the O.K. Store, to site-specifically reinterpret the shop-house with markers from boyhood innocence through to uncertainties of middle age. On view in Revisited < > Departed is a faithful recreation of the O.K. Store that was meticulously catalogued and packaged before being painstakingly reassembled at BANGKOK CITYCITY GALLERY.
b. 1971, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Lives and works in Chiang Mai and Fukuoka, Japan
Navin Rawanchaikul is a Thai artist whose ancestral roots are from the Hindu-Punjabi communities of present day Pakistan. Questioning systems of artistic creation and presentation, Rawanchaikul has developed a vast body of work that utilizes the spirit of collaboration. Rawanchaikul began to engage in a process of exploring the ongoing negotiation between local circumstances and unavoidable globalization. The artist is best known for direct public interventions, social commentary, and an innovative style of integrating community or individual experiences into eccentric fictional tales that feature recurring characters.