This September, STPI unveils a new body of work by Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak in a solo presentation, “Fragmented Bodies: The Personal and The Public”, arising from Sanpitak’s artist residency at STPI which began in May 2018. The works present themselves as a series of playful provocations that bridge a sustained exploration of print and paper techniques such as collagraphy, etching, monoprint and collage with new spatial and formal concerns. The ‘breast-stupa’ motif, for which Sanpitak is renowned, re-emerges in rich permutations and treatments, allowing reconsiderations of age-old symbols that have held both sacred and earthly significances across histories.
Taking on a range of new discursive forms in the exhibition, the breast-stupa is reoriented to elicit various responses, suggesting the openness of an alms bowl in one iteration and gender ambiguity in another. Resisting linear references to femininity, motherhood and religion, Sanpitak seeks to draw viewers into sensorial and affective relations with her work. The repetition of motifs on view is generative and expansive, locating wider, universal cultural referents that complicate narrow interpretations of deceptively familiar imagery.
Following its major debut at the Encounters section of Art Basel Hong Kong in March this year, the maze-like installation The Walls (2018-19) activates STPI’s central gallery space in a new labyrinthine reconfiguration. The work’s skin-like paper textures and light suspension imbue it with a porosity and bodily presence that threaten the regularity of the grid format, invoking an anthropomorphic quality and movement directly informed by the bodies of visitors weaving through it. The textured panels of the installation, along with other print and paper works on view, bring visitors into contemplative moments of proximity and connectivity.
“Fragmented Bodies: The Personal and The Public” suggests a constant negotiation and reconciliation between the self, cultural conditions and the environment, enabling contingency and fluidity to surface in the tracing of territories on both personal and planetary scales. Creating empathetic gestures in response to the vagaries of humanity and lived experiences, Sanpitak’s work brings us into deeper engagement with the world we inhabit.