Address: Jim Thompson Art Centre, 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama I Rd., Wang Mai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Thailand See map
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Bangkok Post reviews
Threads of memory
- Writer: Bangkok Post Editorial
- Published: September 4, 2013 at 8:43 am
Cultural heritage weaves through contemporary pieces at Jim Thompson Art Center's latest exhibition
mnemonikos: Art Of MemoryIn Contemporary Textiles On display at Jim Thompson Art Center until February Call 02- 614-6741 for details
It's not an exaggeration to say that Jim Thompson Art Center's latest exhibition is a paradise of inspiration for those who are passionate about textiles. Curated by artist and textile expert Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, "mnemonikos: Art Of Memory In Contemporary Textiles" features works from 29 artists, Thai and international, who created their works through various techniques, from dyeing, painting, weaving, stitching, printing, laser etching to heat transfer and vacuum coating of metal onto fabric and more.
The word "textile" usually prompts an image of something prosaic _ material for practical purposes, clothing and the like. But the works exhibited here belong rightly to the sphere of fine art.
Through different types of fabrics and techniques, the artists present their stories and historical and cultural backgrounds, making it enjoyable for those who are interested in contemporary art as well.
"Textiles, fabrics, fibres, have inherited the quality of keeping history and memory," says Wada. "The works the artists have created here have deeper historical and cultural connections to our lives more than on the canvas."
Walking through the first entrance of a long, dimly-lit exhibition hall, the first prominent piece of work visitors will encounter is Rooibos Teabag Dress by Swiss artist Mascha Mioni. What's quite fascinating about it is not only how simple teabags can be made into such an elegant gown, but also the background story.
American artist Kambui Olujimi’s artwork of eye masks with chains titled Pidgin .
Mioni used more than 5,000 teabags, collecting them when she was in South Africa. It is one of the works which most closely represents the concept of "mnemonikos" _ "remembering".
Set on the wall close by is The Lute Tune _ III by Hong Kong artists Guoxiang Yuan and Kinor Jiang. Using an electro-plating technique, the artists express the concept of modern advancement by flattening the clothes into the background, using electric current to create a metal coating on the surface. It's like watching a piece of painting on the wall. Only this time the material is the fabric instead of watercolour or oil paint.
Walking further in, a piece that resembles a tree trunk protrudes from the wall.
Looking closely, the big tree is actually made of cotton and hemp and it's the weaving and dyeing techniques which make it seem very much alive.
"The technique I used is double-weaving," Thai-Japanese artist Vachiraporn Limviphuvadh says about her artwork The Temple Of God. "By weaving two pieces of cloth together at the same time, I could give the work a dimension. And by dyeing the cloth only in some parts, I was able to make some spots lighter or heavier in colour than other parts. The inspiration for this work is from seeing those big trees which are hundreds of years old. They make us feel the power of life and the sacredness of nature. The older they get, the more stories and details they have collected."
Military Coat by Wen-Yin Huang.
Korakrit Arunanondchai is another artist whose choice of material speaks to the exhibition's concept. Collaborating with Chantri Club, a group of Thai artists based in New York, his artwork is bleached denim with digital prints presented on a wooden flagpole. The process he used was to burn parts of the denim flag randomly and fill the holes with the photo print of the fire he took while it was actually burning.
"Jeans and fire are two things that everybody can connect with, regardless of religion and culture," says Korakrit. "People in all cultures have some connection with fire so I think it's interesting to use as the subject of the work with jeans as the background. I want to create a new history in painting. As opposed to canvas, denim has always had a lower status. I want to put the work at the centre and have people with different cultures and backgrounds to encounter it."
The hall is not that large but the collection of works seems endless, and each boasts its own character both in terms of technique and meaning.
"Cloth transcends its origins from the wool of an animal, the fibre of a plant, or of alchemy of coal," says Wada. "The agent of transformation is the artist, who senses the life inherent in the material and actualises it through the application of human touch, knowledge, and vision, thus revealing the memory embedded in it."
Also notable is Shibori On Metal by American artist Frank Connet, who used a form-creating sewing technique called shibori with copper fabric and wire. The eye masks with chains titled Pidgin are by another American artist, Kambui Olujimi. Visitors can put them on and interact with the work Diary From The Countryside 2 by Thai artist Hatairat Maneerat in which cotton, silk, spindles and shuttles were used to create a pagoda-like form to represent the agricultural way of life. It would take at least a couple of hours to appreciate everything.
"In our time of amazing technological developments and an increasingly pervasive information network, contemporary artists and artisans are tapping into ancient knowledge and skills and revitalising our shared cultural heritage _ applying perseverance and innovation to create opulent, and sometimes provocative, textiles in the name of art," Wada says.