L.A. Artcore is pleased to present Sanctuary: Suthat Pinruethai and Rirkrit Tiravanija from November 4th through November 28th.
The philosopher Michael Foucault once complained, “Art has become something which is only related to objects, and not to individuals, or to life.” In this upcoming dual-artist exhibit we have the delight of refuting this notion summarily. Suthat Pinruethai and Rirkrit Tiravanija individually contribute their own versions of relational art, and in their respective manners challenge the role of the object through personal association and human interaction. Beyond meaning, there is also an aspect of the playful present in both artists, a further articulation of human spirit. In exploring their work we find the familiar, the feeling of home, reflecting on our own lives through the comfort of a real-world lens. By proxy we can examine artful meaning within our private spheres while removed from the direct connection to our material lives, viewing the situation and components of daily life freshly pried loose from the dream-like familiarity of the ordinary. Like a square of fresh sod grass set neatly in the center of a dinner table, or a photo-realistic drawing of the rising steam from a tea cup, this show gives us a perspective shifted ever so gently, crisply, from living into delving.
Suthat Pinruthai has a particular penchant for peeling back the tangible presence of objects, and revealing symbol, purpose and reference. Even before he manipulates the character of reality through his art, his choice of objects has a certain aesthetic that creates a mood of intrigue, each element inspiring sparks of curiosity. There is a suggestion in the raw materials of the antique, the rare, and an unusual find. Interest is piqued by the sight of a vintage toy, and then smoothly shuttled into the artist’s message, hidden in plain sight. Pages of old paper appear to be nonchalantly scattered on the floor, their size and even the particular color of the lines drawing attention, and without pause the inky silhouettes of birds come into focus like shadow versions of a ornithologist’s journal. On the wall we notice a tidy frame with a simple landscape, the sort of picture we might remember innocuously occupying a nook in grandmother’s kitchen. And then we notice words have been painted in like a veil of mist… ‘Art is not what Art is.’ Alternately whimsical, clever and profound, we are continually taken one step further into a very particular view of life, one that is easy to relate to. In this exhibit, the augmented familiar is expanded one step further into our lives, as the artist’s work is presented in a replica of his bedroom, arranged as they might be within his own private sphere. Drawn into the world of the artist, into the object he has chosen, and then into the life he has breathed into them, we are welcomed into a new relationship with viewing our own lives.
Rirkrit Tiravanija showers the visitor with welcome, a practiced graciousness that has come to define his career. Famously the artist’s debut involved cooking food and serving it to gallery goers. By taking an aspect of daily life and introducing it into an art context, the artist asks us directly why art should even be considered as a fixed object, a material product to be put on display and frozen in time. In his work with hospitality and food, each element served its own role, objects from refrigerator to chair to plate in use according to their own purpose, the attendants participating in the meal as they do regularly in their individual lives, under the aegis of a living art installation. From one perspective it is simply the setting that transforms the ordinary into art, from another it is art laid bare, and exposed as pure relationship, good company even. The artist presents a dynamic conceptual display of non-attachment placed right at odds with the cherished notion of art as a static material product. Other interventions from this internationally renowned artist discard the pristine object in favor of the interactions between people, such as the Station Utopia project with which he represented the US at the 2003 Venice Bienalle, or The Land Foundation in Chang Mai, Thailand, which places art in a traditional agrarian context.
Between these two artists, we are offered a refreshing, open-armed invitation to regard art as something familiar and accessible. We are invited to let go of the material significance of the objects in our lives, and even the value we place in them, and enter a sanctuary that promises to take such considerations with comfort and ease. This is an opportunity to have a glance at the significance of the various items surrounding us, and our relationships with each other, which comprise a fresh contemporary take on wholeness in the human experience.