Participating in the
Bangkok Art Biennale
October 19, 2018-February 3, 2019
"We live in a present state of fear, protest, and delusion. We invite our selected artists to comment on this lack of bliss which has been created due to political clashes, disease, pollution, and migration. Bliss is a temporary and ephemeral experience, our artists will seek to interpret and capture different variants and intensity."
-- Bangkok Art Biennale chief executive and artistic director Apinan Poshyananda
Blum & Poe is pleased to announce Yoshitomo Nara's participation in Beyond Bliss, the inaugural edition of the Bangkok Art Biennale. In response to the curatorial prompt, Nara presents recent large-scale sculptural work representative of a mature and introspective artist now seasoned with a career spanning four decades. A bronze anthropomorphic Tannenbaum tree standing at sixteen feet, Miss Forest / Thinker (2016) was cast from a clay form that the artist repeatedly built up and subsequently carved away in layers. In regard to these works which were created in Shigaraki, Japan -- one of the oldest sites in the country for production in the clay medium -- Nara cites a personal growth in consciousness since the integration of ceramics into his artistic output. He states, "Recently I realized that clay is freer than pencil ... ceramic sculptures [are] created by my hands in the space between freedom and restriction." Striking a balance between form and materiality, Nara embraces the primal relationship an artist finds with the medium, while harnessing this new instrument to articulate his deep affinity for the natural world and the profound meaning he recognizes therein. Nara intends that these works, which he calls "forest spirits," will outlive him and endure the forces of nature that threaten the world as they did in 2011 with the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Led by chief executive and artistic director Apinan Poshyananda, the Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB) features 75 artists from 33 countries. The exhibition will be presented at 20 venues across the city including the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC), Suan Lumpini Park, East Asiatic Company building, and three ancient temples along the Chao Phraya River. It is curated by Poshyananda along with Sansern Milindasuta and Luckana Kunavichayanont from BACC; Patrick D. Flores, curator of the Vargas Museum in Manila, Philippines; and Adele Tan, curator at the National Gallery Singapore.
The Bangkok Art Biennale Foundation was co-founded by Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi --CEO and president of ThaiBev corporation, which has committed to sponsoring the first three editions of the show -- and Poshyananda, the former permanent secretary of Thailand's Ministry of Culture. Poshyananda is a renowned scholar of Thai art, and a noted curator and writer on contemporary Asian art. The BAB artists were selected by a committee, which comprised Guggenheim senior curator Alexandra Munroe; independent curator David Elliott; director of the National Gallery Singapore Eugene Tan; Mori Art Museum director Fumio Nanjo; Artsonje and Gwangju Biennale director Sunjung Kim; Saatchi gallery CEO Nigel Hurst; and Buenos Aires-born artist Rirkrit Tiravanija.