An amalgamation of painting and entangled letters excised from newspaper articles. Abstraction made up of rice noodles or tea. The Thai artist Udomsak Krisanamis (*1966, lives in Bangkok and New York) is one of the most fascinating figures in young painting. The inspiration and motivation for his painterly collages come at least partly from the differences he experiences as he commutes constantly between worlds and cultures.
Having completed his studies at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok he attended the Chicago Art Institute until 1993. The English language, of which he understood so little at first, served him, the artist from a different language and script environment, much as it appeared to him, namely, as an abstract medium. His canvases show strips of text and letters from newspapers which, through being painted around in ink, are transformed into ornamental patterns. The countless small spaces inside the letters and digits seem like highlights in the midst of the variously interwoven colour planes.
Anything that is readily available to the artist can gain access to his compositions. He thus uses glass noodles and bed linen as graphic elements and carriers. The apparently incidental titles of the works are not without a certain mischievousness; they are taken from song or film titles or other turns of phrase he has picked up: Shirley Temple (1996), Je voudrais une chambre avec douche (1998) or I’ll do for you anything you want (2002) convert the everyday world of experience into a tactile shimmering abstraction.
The procedure Udomsak Krisanamis adopts for carefully painting around his text and noodle collages is deliberately aimed at repetition and sobriety, and flirts more with the arts and crafts than with “high art”. The diverse layers and multiple elements in these works presuppose skilled craftsmanship and work-intensive artistic practice. The closer one comes to the works, the better their inner-pictorial cosmos unfolds, giving rise to astonishment. Enigmatic beauty and time-consuming, almost obsessive artistic procedures are things from which many contemporary artists distance themselves but which Krisanamis celebrates.
This is the first comprehensive presentation of Udomsak Krisanamis’ works in Europe and a clear illustration of his unique manner of linking visual signs from different cultures – a productive and at the same time bizarre path between western abstraction and oriental decoration.
A German/English exhibition catalogue is being published by Schwabe Verlag with an introduction by Peter Pakesch, an interview between the artist and Kirsty Bell, an essay by Christina Végh, and numerous colour reproductions.
This exhibition is generously supported by: