Critics’ Picks

Pornpilai and Jiradej Meemalai, On Adapation, 2009, still from a color video, 12 minutes 50 seconds.


Pornpilai and Jiradej Meemalai

Ardel Gallery of Modern Art
99/45 moo. 18 km 10.5 Boromrachonanee Road Salathammasob Thaweewattana
September 10–October 15

Pornpilai and Jiradej Meemalai are married artists who are building a solid reputation with collaborative works that metaphorically address their relationship. Doubling, repetition, and reflection are key features of their new exhibition, which includes two cast-ceramic life buoys, a granite replica of a suitcase, and a large wooden frame supporting two tiny totemic figurines. In a separate area of the gallery, a large video projection depicts Pornpilai struggling with a soft, kitelike white object atop a makeshift raft on the open seas while her husband swims frantically.

Tensions in their relationship are hinted at. Holding a Balance (all works 2009) is a sand sculpture of Pornpilai emerging as an extension of Jiradej’s torso as he scowls and balances his arms on two embedded handles. She appears comparatively serene. An animation sequence offers two unsophisticatedly drawn figures merging and disengaging. However, the exhibition’s title, “Relations Are More Real and More Important than the Things They Relate,” points to the artists’ evident interest in the nature of collaboration, rather than the confessional. All the artworks suggest abstract notions of negotiation, struggle, balance, and, in the wooden frame titled A Model Study of Interior, domesticity.

These coolly rendered works recall Felix Gonzalez-Torres and early Elmgreen & Dragset. Like those artists, Pornpilai and Jiradej hint at the context of their personal lives; they also don’t reveal too much. The viewer is left desiring further information about the whys and wherefores of their collaboration.