The Four Elements


    April 8, 2022 – April 24, 2022

    Gajah Gallery Singapore

    Gajah Gallery is pleased to announce Thai artist Thasnai Sethaseree’s first solo show at Gajah Gallery, The Four Elements. The show opens to the public on 8 April, and is curated by John Tung.

    Sethaseree is renowned for his vibrant, large-scale collages that critique “the plethora of injustices emerging from the onset of (neo)liberalism as the dominant ideology in global politics”, according to Tung.  His richly layered, historically grounded works often meld a wide range of materials and techniques: gestural painting; photographs; newspapers; traditional Thai paper-cutting techniques; and perhaps his most signature material, stretched robes of Buddhist monks. In challenging conventional art labels – such as assemblage and collage, painting and sculpture – Sethasaree breaks new ground for ontological inquiries. 

    For this show, Sethaseree turns to classical Greek elements of air, water, earth and fire in order to “create possibilities of sensation”. Encountering these new works, one is immediately struck by the sensorial qualities of its imageries: from thick gray smoke evoking the smell of a polluted city; to piercing red and orange fires against a dark bleak night, their lethal heat palpable and alive. The foundational layers of these pieces are in fact inverted photographs of downtown areas in cities across the world, including Singapore. Hidden even deeper beneath these layers are lyrics from popular songs by American and English artists that were written during the Cold War, some of which reflected the tense mood of the times. 

    Created over the span of the past year, the new body of works delves into a philosophical investigation of history, geography, biology, and physics so as to expose the inherent rifts between cultural and political practices in the world today.  In particular, Sethaseree sheds new light on the widespread implications of western cultural hegemony—a theme he has been exploring since the dawn of his artistic practice.

    “Looking back, perhaps our conversations in the lead up to the presentation were tinged with a sense of foreboding – though are the players ever cognizant of what the future holds even as the plot thickens? Perhaps Thasnai Sethaseree is a prophet . . . or at the very least, an artist whose fingers are on the zeitgeist’s pulse so much so that his creations manifest the very certainty of history repeating itself.”

    John Tung, ‘Capricious Horses, or Ruminations on Thasnai Sethaseree’s The Four Elements

    Thasnai Sethaseree (b. 1968, Bangkok, Thailand) was trained in Fine Art and Social Sciences. He is best known for his conceptual and relational works that are usually ephemeral. Recently, his practice has turned to sculpture and painting, and recurrent themes in his work include memory, migration and the nature of knowledge. His work has been presented globally at notable institutions such as MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand (2018); and Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago, USA (2016), amongst others. In 2018, he received the Jurors’ Choice Award as part of the Asia Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize.

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