Montri Toemsombat was born in 1975 in Chaiyaphum, Thailand and he studied visual arts, specializing in Intermedia Arts at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chulalongkorn University. His extensive portfolio covers installation arts, sculptures, photographs, performance arts and videos.
Montri’s artworks often use natural materials, such as rice and silk as key components, which have gained prominent recognition. His work explores his personal experiences and perceptions of society and relates to the essential factors of how life, society, culture and nature are bonded together.
The artist practices critique on consumerism in the age of globalization, raises questions about social direction and the uncertain future of his native country.
He was the recipient of a Japan Foundation research grant and has exhibited widely including Fluid Zones, Jakarta Biennale 2009 , Jakarta, Indonesia, “Breaking out of the cocoon, Growing out of rice” (solo, 2010) at Jim Thompson Art Center, “Nanothailand” (solo, 2008) at 100 Tonson Gallery, Bangkok, Busan Biennale 2008, “Inhale-Exhale” (2006) at the Kiasma Museum in Finland, “New Fashion Order: Dissolution” at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (2005), and the Thai Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003).
THE RATCHAPRASONG ART MAZE
“The long way home: A parallel universe”
Even though Montri’s work often relates to the countryside of Thailand and the beauty of its crafts, people and customs, it is the first time he exclusively focuses on his hometown, Chaiyaphum.
Chaiyaphum, or “Land of Victory”, is the center of the Isarn region of Thailand. It is known for its natural splendors, silk craftsmanship and abundant crops of rice. For generations people have been in tune with this flourishing nature, which brings them their livelihood.
As times change, nature is altered by intensive crop production; the young generation deserts field work and turns towards the city for a different future. Chaiyaphum seems neglected by the authorities and unconnected with the rest of the country. As a metaphor of this paradoxical time, Montri’s installation involves a futuristic shape made by local traditional craftsmen with very ancestral material, bamboo.
The shape, inspired by a traditional weaved fish trap, was altered to resemble an ultramodern mode of transportation, suggesting a lack of connection in Chaiyaphum region with the rest of Thailand. It also poetically evokes the desire for the new generation to move out and enter this world of modernity. The association made with the traditional craft presents a possible harmony between the traditional and the modern in which Montri has great faith.