Critics’ Picks

View of “Korakrit Arunanondchai: 2557 (Painting with history in a room filled with men with funny names 2),” 2014.


Korakrit Arunanondchai

88 Mile End Road Unit 4
September 18–November 1, 2014

A group of mannequins face the gallery’s entrance in Korakrit Arunanondchai’s debut UK exhibition and collaboration with his twin brother, Korapat, “2557 (Painting with history in a room filled with men with funny names 2).” The models are dressed in a combination of denim and sportswear, including Manchester United FC uniforms, as well as traditional Thai morhoms, and a sweatsuit the artist produced with Disown. The whole scene is covered in paint. In fact, the entire exhibition has been doused in various hues—from the canvasses on the walls to the cushions on the floor—and in the center of this display is a massage chair, which has been upholstered in bleached denim, while miniature arms protrude from the seat.

Also in the mix is a video that shares the title of the show. Here, we see the artist and his brother visiting Thailand’s ornate Wat Rong Khun on a pilgrimage. The brothers examine the building’s surreal sculptural elements: armed demons and hands that swell from the earth in a vision of hell. The temple’s white-and-gold color scheme provides the palette for the exhibition’s canvasses, and the mannequins on view are based on different characters in the film played by the artist and his brother.

This video quietly, almost imperceptibly anchors the exhibition—balancing the visually disruptive elements here. Moreover, it extends the installation into the totemic as it indicates an unconscious spiritual kinship between people, which is both enhanced and poisoned by contemporary culture. The serene imagery of the temple and the luxury objects in the installation are treated with an even-handed objectivity. The installation becomes a hypocenter of cross-cultural miscellany. It ultimately represents the debris of lifestyles distributed over the Web traveling without context.