After several solo exhibitions at Thavibu in Bangkok, Thai contemporary artist Jirapat Tatsanasomboon comes back with another show, entitled Disparity, which will once again tackle the characters of Ramakien, the Thai appropriation and expansion of the famous Indian epic Ramayana. Considered one of the greatest works of Indian literature, the poem can be found in different versions across Asia, in languages like Cambodian, Indonesian, Filipino, Burmese and others. He has become known for his dedication to this subject, having painted several series of works featuring main Ramayana/Ramakien figures like Nonthok and Hanuman.
Thailand’s Jirapat Tatsanasomboon: The Ramakien
It is those two characters, Nonthok and Hanuman, that will be the protagonists of Tatsanasomboon’s Ramakien Pop series. The two familiar figures will face each other yet again: Nonthok, a servant who turned into an angry demon and the main opponent of Rama, the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and Hanuman, another Hindu god and an ardent devotee of Rama. Through the reinterpretation of their story and fight, he entwined contemporary elements present in the society of Thailand today, such as the abuse of power by the upper class, integrity and current political affairs in the country. However, these works do not relate to Thailand only, as they also carry a strong universal message and incorporate many Western references.
The Intercultural Experimentation of the Thai Contemporary Talent
The Disparity exhibition will continue to express Tatsanasomboon’s long-standing passion for the connection between different cultures, in particular the one of Thailand and the one in the West, particularly the US. Addressing the ongoing dominance of the West on the rest of the world and on his country even during post-colonialist times, he brings together different notions of symbolism, history of art and its many famous names, and social structure, implying that the current political situation on both depicted fronts is highly unstable. Through the narrative of the two figures, he also points out the differences and hypocrisy of higher and lower social class, questioning the principles of authority, greed, lust, leadership, human emotions in general.
Disparity in Bangkok
In his art, this talented Thai paints many references to great artists in history, including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Frida Kahlo, Piet Mondrian, Salvador Dali or Damien Hirst, transforming their famous artworks into Ramakien narratives, putting past and present on the same canvas. Accepting modernisation but holding onto the traditional, the artist, like his country, challenges us to re-evaluate our ongoing dilemmas, as we’re all stuck with the same problems. He is the only Thai artist to be included in the 100 Painters of Tomorrow international art book.
Disparity, an exhibition of works by Thai contemporary artist Jirapat Tatsanasomboon curated by Rathsaran Sireekan, will be on view at Thavibu in Bangkok, Thailand, from October 24th until November 21st, 2015. The opening is set for October 24th at 5pm.
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Deer Hunter (after F. Kahlo), 2010, detail; Control vs Freedom (after S. Dali), 2014, detail.
All images courtesy of the gallery.