Thai - Dutch Artists 2001 - 2002
The travelling exhibition of "Thai Contemporary Art 2000" & "Co-operative Working Thai-Dutch Artists" has been instigated by the Silpakorn Art Centre, Bangkok and Thai Art Foundation, Amsterdam. Our aim is to promote Thai art internationally, and to contribute to the ongoing debate on the issues of multicultural identities and "Thai" or rather "new international" contemporary art.
This exhibition is comprised of twenty-five paintings and five installations from thirty renowned Thai artists. We have also included works from the organization for cooperation of Thai-Dutch artists. This is the largest Thai contemporary art exhibition in the Netherlands to date.
Thai art in the heart of the Dutch people
For me, art and art organizations must play an active role that reflects the society in which we live. My image of an art institution is not that of an "institution" but rather that of a flexible and continuously evolving organism, a network that connects people with their ideas. An organism that is active on both "local" and "global" levels. I am interested in creating art that people can integrate into their everyday life. I would like for art to be involved with a greater diversity of institutions in society, not limited to j . ust art institutions. Art should have greater visibility, it can be anywhere and everywhere in our everyday life. I believe that on art should not be confined to museums as pictures need not always be confined in picture frames, let us bring art out of its prison to the people, to the society at large. I am not talking about nationality, but of life and the content of life. Art should criticize and inspire our society. It should be incorporated into popular culture in order to reach a wider audience. It is with these concepts that I chose to make the exhibition in the Windmill of Sloten.
Concept of the symposium
The symposium of three Thai and three Dutch artists was a direct confrontation between the different cultures and presented a real challenge. The process and final result help to highlight the difference between eastern and western cultures. The differing processes followed (such as discussions, controversies, actions, presence or lack of it, the execution of works by the artists themselves or supporting work from other participating artists) seem to me to be of equal or even greater value than the project itself. This project involves a cross-cultural dialogue between Thai and Dutch artists. Without a doubt, this cross-cultural experience has a significant influence on the creative stimulation and personal growth of the participating artists. By working in different cultures and participating with their colleagues, each artist has initiated a dynamic change in their development, which is significant to the deepening of the artist's identity.
Eastern and Western approach in art
As the artists here are from different cultures, the artistic aim should be to understand more about them. For me, the development of western art has been closely linked to the industrial revolution over the last two centuries. The linear and progressive thought of this has led in the visual arts to a succession of movements and to a criteria based on newness, the finding of new form and ideas, on surprises and on originality. What has occurred is a continuous change. There have been milestones erected by individuals but not by groups. It has oscillated between reason and emotion, between the positive and the negative, but always based on inventions. The Netherlands is a country that has become over-regulated to an increasingly oppressive degree and this has impacted the people in general as well as Dutch art . A good example is the artistic initiative of the AVL -Ville in Rotterdam from Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout. AVL Ville is the biggest work of art by the Atelier van Lieshout to date. This open stage is an agreeable mix of an artistic environment and a sanctuary. They cultivate their own vegetables and raise their own animals. What is the identity of Dutch art? I would say that this is the crucial point. Dutch art does not know itself. Maybe they are becoming more internationally focused so do not expect to see Dutch artists dressed up in Volendam costumes and carrying a plate of cheese in Biennale Venice or any other world famous exhibition.
The east lives and works within the traditions of its own culture. In Thailand, the traditions of the west have been adopted resulting in great complexity. These are comprised of imitations of the past (meaning tradition) and of the future (meaning western ideas). Thailand, a country immersed in a very old culture, tradition and beautiful landscape is undergoing rapid change. Artists are most inspired by topics nowadays concerning environmental pollution, social disorder and unrest, politics, economic instability, and fast industrial development. Thai identity in particular has been a hot topic in Thai art. A good example is the work of Sutee Kunavichyanont who has been influenced by the degradation of Thai culture and values by the western way of life. His creations such as "Siamese Twins" or "The White Elephant" reminds us of the need for Thai people to save their own values. Here visitors must help by giving air to the twins or to the elephant to keep them alive. As well as everyone being a member of Thai society, each individual must contribute in protecting and prolonging Thai values.