Southeast Asian Contemporary Artists Delve into Human Existence in the 21st Century

This autumn Sundaram Tagore, New York, hosts an exhibition curated by Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani that spans both the gallery’s Chelsea and Madison Avenue locations. “Anthropos” brings together both established and emerging artists from Thailand and Singapore whose works—in photography, painting, sculpture and video—reflect a unique Southeast Asian perspective on the condition of the “human” in the 21st century.

The highly personal presentation—including both abstract and figurative self-portraits in various media—is organized around the common themes of spirituality and cosmology, political conditioning, and individual artistic autonomy explored by these artists. Although working in close geographical proximity, they ultimately participate in distinct cultural milieus and share a unique international platform in New York for the first time. 

Jeremy Sharma’s molded, high-density polystyrene foam reliefs, in the “Terra Sense Series” (2014), register repeated motifs that bear a structural resemblance to man’s vertically upright spine. In fact, the machined pattern is a 3D-visualization of the sound emitted by pulsars (dying stars) as detected from earth. Kamin Lertchaiprasert’s man-sized, roughly carved wooden sculpture, Impermanent (Anijja), (2010-12), is bisected along the sagittal plane that passes through the body’s midline structures (including the spine). Laterally fusing a modestly clad primitive figure to its underlying (gold-painted) skeleton, the piece serves as both memento mori and symmetrical talisman of the uniquely intertwined forces of life and death. Lavendar Chang’s Unconsciousness: Consciousness (2012-2013) photographic series traces the liminal psychological space between dualistic states; while Tawan Wattuya’s observational watercolors (Soapland Girls #1 and Soapland Girls #2, both 2013) swiftly, yet empathetically, render the ethnically diverse bodies of the socially inscrutable Thai sex trade in an adapted manga style.

Anthropos” is on view at Sundaram Tagore Gallery, New York, Sept. 4th–Oct. 4th, 2014.

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