Kritsana Chaikitwattana is an artist from Thailand, born in 1977 in Hat Yai. He graduated receiving a Bachelor Degree from Chulalongkorn University in 1998, and proceeded to attain a Master’s Degree from Silpakorn University in 2002.
His abstract works display a preoccupation with opposites and the binaries that shape his modern day Thailand. Drawing from his own personal experience, Chaikitwattana brings globally recognizable motifs from renowned works of Western art together with themes from Buddhist teachings, many of which have resonated with him since childhood. “I chose symbolic art from famous 19th century artists that can be related to Buddhist philosophy,” he says. “I mixed the elements together to show the conflicts in the rapidly changing society. I want to show that everything now is changing fast and full of chaos.” But Chaikitwattana does not consider this chaos to be destructive. Whereas the converging of a dominant Western culture with traditional Thai philosophy might be adversely regarded, the artist instead sees this mélange as a positive progression. His recent work is focused on realm between fact and fiction, reality and illusion, spiritual and secular and lost and found. He does not aim to depict absolutes or ideological positions that are unassailable due to intense, impassioned, separatist, authoritarian or militant fundamentalism, but with the places where these attitudes meet. Sometimes these encounters may result in conflict, as when ideologies collide, but at other times this is the only place where understanding can grow.
Chaikitwattana has exhibited widely in Thailand since 1998 when his work was included in The Witches Stuff curated by the late Montien Boonma. He cites Boonma as a major influence along with Conceptual artists Ai Wei Wei and Joseph Kosuth, and the Transavantgarde artists Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi and Mimmo Paladino. Like the Conceptualists, his work is a sustained exploration of the production and role of meaning in art, while his commitment to the expression of emotion through painting has parallels in the work of the Transavantgardists. His exhibition entitled Venuses of Bangkok focused on the strength of Thai women and their expanding roles. The artist pays homage to Thai women in today’s society. His Venus series is painted as oil on canvas, though mostly he has worked on carved and painted wood and small wooden patches on board. To the artist, patches, scratches and wear included in the works symbolize the passing of time. Some of his works even incorporate stones from Hualamphong, the main railway station in Bangkok.
Kritsana held solo exhibitions, and participated in several group exhibitions in Thailand, as well as in Korea in 2003, Spain in 2005, Taiwan in 2006, China in 2008 (the Olympics) and Singapore also in 2008.