Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Rebel Art Space

Rebel Art Space
People Fuck The Police
Rebel Art Space, one of Bangkok's newest art galleries, opened on 11th December last year. The gallery's inaugural exhibition, portraits of Narin Klung by Vasan Sitthiket, runs until 8th February. There is also a permanent collection, selected from Vasan's previous works, including self-portraits from his Chaotic Victory series.

Rebel Art Space also serves as Vasan's studio, and his current works are responses to the anti-government demonstrations in Bangkok. People Fuck The Police, a life-sized print criticising the Thai police's political bias, has a typically direct message, inspired by NWA's controversial single Fuck Tha Police from 1988.

In Thailand, criticisms are almost always made indirectly to save face, and discussion of sensitive subjects, even in the media, is usually camouflaged by innuendo. Vasan, however, pulls no punches; unusually for an established Thai artist, he is refreshingly blunt in his treatment of politics, sex, and religion. Hypocrisy and Ten Evil Scenes Of Thai Politic, for example, portray politicians such as Thaksin Shinawatra and Suthep Thaugsuban as thoroughly corrupt figures succumbing to the sins of lust and greed. His self-portraits, as in The Human Clay, often depict him not only nude but also tumescent.

In 2001, Vasan created an installation featuring wooden effigies of politicians hanging from nooses, unambiguously titled Hang Forty-Nine Thieves: Sentence The Cabinet To Death. The installation was a response to Chulalongkorn University's decision to ban forty of his paintings (The World Is Not The Theatre), which were eventually exhibited the following year. Like Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Withit Sembutr, and Anupong Chantorn, Vasan's depiction of monks has also caused controversy: his 1992 painting Buddha Visits Thailand depicted a monk raping a woman, and Obsessive Compulsive included paintings of monks having sex.

In Flavours, his book on contemporary Thai art, Steven Pettifor describes Vasan as "the country's most outrageous artist". Some of his video works, including the scatological There Must Be Something Happen, were shown at From Message To Media.

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