Magazine article Artforum International

Korakrit Arunanondchai: Palais De Tokyo

Magazine article Artforum International

Korakrit Arunanondchai: Palais De Tokyo

Article excerpt

Korakrit Arunanondchai

Palais De Tokyo

Stepping into Korakrit Arunanondchai's exhibition "Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3," one had the sensation of entering the set of a music video, an elaborately contrived nightclub, an "imagineered" theme park gone off the rails, a temple decked out in polychrome ritual paraphernalia--or indeed some synthesis of all of these. In other words: a spectacularized Gesamtkunstwerk.

Filling two spaces--one associated with the body and one with the spirit--linked by a darkened corridor, the exhibition, curated by Julien Fronsacq, was billed as the epilogue to a series of videos and installations that Arunanondchai has been making since 2012. These constitute the bildungsroman of a Thai denim painter, an autobiographical surrogate for the artist. The exhibition title plays on a reciprocal experience of otherness for audiences confronting aesthetic traditions different from their own, and a desire to fuse identities extended to the exhibition's formal properties. Horror vacui overwhelmed the large gallery devoted to the body, which was filled with scorched and bleached denim canvases, fake palm trees, and a legion of mannequins and sculptural deities, all doused in haphazardly splattered paint and subtended by an enormous drop cloth. Seductively pulsating music suffused the scene as voices purred in French, Thai, and English--the sound track to the 2015 video that shared its name with the exhibition, which played in the adjacent space consecrated by the artist to the spirit. In it, a wide-ranging epistolary dialogue unfolds between the denim painter and Chantri, a personification of the audience, voiced by Arunanondchai's mother. At one point Chantri imagines the artist creating a work that might make sense of the inconsistencies of the world.


Claude Levi-Strauss observed that mythic thought serves to resolve contradictions within a given culture; the contemporary mythology constructed by Arunanondchai stylishly aspires to reconcile competing cultural traditions and histories, producing connections that might otherwise seem unlikely, such as between Yves Klein's "Anthropometries," 1960, and Duangjai Jansaunoi, a go-go dancer who created controversy by utilizing her topless torso to apply paint to canvas on the reality show Thailand's Got Talent. …

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