Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak is renowned for a diverse body of work that has its origins in her feeling for the female form and which reflects her sophisticated approach to materials. While attending to the sensual possibilities suggested by a breadth of materials that includes painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, performance and the culinary arts, she has held an unerring appreciation for the body and a heightened regard for the senses. Her longstanding interest in ideas of exchange and interactivity has led her to collaborate beyond the gallery across vocational, interdisciplinary and community situations.
Throughout her career, Sanpitak has cultivated a position – or posture – of quiet assurance from which to acquire an understanding of herself and her place in the world. From her home base of Bangkok, she has negotiated an international profile as one of Southeast Asia’s foremost artists and, importantly, as a senior female figure. She has arguably challenged the prevailing practice of folding non-Western artists and their concerns into Anglo-European narratives of art history and criticism.*
Sanpitak has consistently worked with a relatively limited range of geometric and organic forms while contemplating ideas surrounding the formation of the ‘self’. She has viewed this lexicon of ‘seemingly different but connected’ forms as a continuum and has explored it by working in series. While she has moved through a progression of ideas, her forms have centred on the body and related imagery associated with food, nature and architecture. From Sanpitak’s first images of hanging fruit to her evolving language of breasts, bodies, clouds, flying cubes and hammocks, her chosen forms have elicited abundant personal and cultural associations. As she has honed her iconography, her devotion to these forms has been accompanied by a profound sense that it is the ‘vessel’ of the body that carries us through conception, life and death and enables our passage between the everyday and the sacred.
Collection+ is Sanpitak’s first solo exhibition in Australia. It honours her by presenting a suite of works in the interpretative context of the collecting of her work. Sanpitak’s work is held in private and public collections in Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. The exhibition’s starting point is The Mirror, 2009, from the Gene and Brian Sherman Collection, which is shown alongside works generously lent by collections in Australia and Thailand together with works from the collection of the artist. Assembled in consultation with Sanpitak, Collection+ is intended to focus attention on the ways that the collecting activities of individuals and institutions support and stimulate the lives of artists.
* This contextualising essay is indebted to generous conversations with Pinaree Sanpitak during January – July 2014.
This writing is an extract from Jasmin Stephens’ catalogue essay for Collection+: Pinaree Sanpitak at Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation.
Visit Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation to see this exhibition. Open 17th October – 13th December 2014.