Well known for his unique approach to watercolor and his thought-provoking subject matters, Tawan Wattuya is widely considered one of today’s most important Thai painters. Coping with subjects such as politics, sexuality, identity, he achieved to hustle Thai societies’ most exuberant taboos. During his career Wattuya produced very few portraits from live models; he usually works from reproductions of found imageries through internet and old and new magazines. For the first time he makes “live model painting” the center of his project.
After painting gatherings of all sorts, beauty contestants, teenager gangs, boy and girl scouts, students, football teams, it came only naturally that Tawan’s attention was drawn to the social group directly evolving around him, the actors of contemporary art in Thailand. Inspired by a long time tradition of mural painting in Asia, Wattuya composed a gigantic watercolor (25×3 meters), the largest piece of his career, representing the local art community spiced with humorous critique. By using a classical medium and subject the artist challenges the traditional art historical representations of group portraits;
Wattuya brings painting to an entirely new level by making it a real live performance. In the past ten years the artist traveled a lot setting temporary painting studios in Asia and Europe. But “Tii Tai Krua” is the first project in which the live studio is planned to be the actual art work. The studio is set in a public gallery, and the invited models are intended to interact, speak with the artist, hang out, share ideas, and be entirely part of the installation.
The actual painting serves as a trace, a memory of all these interactions. Social Medias are also at the center of this project, with a facebook page, updated every day with new pictures taken by the guests, comments and thousands of views.
This project was naturally drawn towards the concept and movement of relational aesthetics as the artwork creates a social environment in which people come together to participate in a shared activity. “In Relational art, the audience is envisaged as a community. Rather than the artwork being an encounter between a viewer and an object, relational art produces intersubjective encounters. Through these encounters, meaning is elaborated collectively, rather than in the space of individual consumption.” (Nicolas Bourriaud).
In a will to take Thai contemporary portrait painting to another level, Wattuya is not attached to the actual resemblance of the models and the painted figures. Instead he tries to enhance the personality, aura and charisma of each model through color, size, gesture and interactions between one another. As the artist puts it with humor, “I feel like I am the director of a big soap opera!”
EXHIBITION OPENING : Thursday 9 November, 6pm