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JANUARY 8 – FEBRUARY 14, 2015
OPENING RECEPTION: THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, FROM 6 – 8 PM
Manuel Ocampo has been a vital presence on the international art scene for over twenty years. Now based in Manila, the Philippines, he had an extended residency in California in the late 1980s and early 1990s and continues to spend significant time working in both the US and Europe. For The Corrections, his third solo exhibition with Tyler Rollins Fine Art (January 8 – February 14, 2015), Ocampo looks back with a critical eye on his early work, making “corrections” to certain key paintings from the 1990s. Using photographs of his older paintings, he rearranges, reconstructs, and reimagines various motifs, then silkscreens the radically altered images onto the canvas, often in a form resembling photo negatives. New interventions are then hand painted on top of these images, creating rich, multi-layered compositions that capture a sense of the passing of time, the evolution of consciousness, and the ongoing structuring of personal and group identities. Many of Ocampo’s works in the early 1990s were inspired by his experience living in Los Angeles during the race riots of 1992, and this new series of paintings is in turn influenced by the current racially charged environment in the United States in the aftermath of a number of police shooting incidents around the country, particularly in Ferguson, Missouri. They also evoke some dark periods in the history of the Philippines, including subjugation by Spain in the 16th century and the brutal Philippine–American War of 1899–1902.
Born in 1965 in Manila, the Philippines, Ocampo gained early recognition as a young artist living in California in the 1980s. His first solo exhibition, which took place in Los Angeles in 1988, set the stage for a rapid rise to international prominence. By the early 1990s, his reputation was firmly established, with inclusion in two of the most important European art events, Documenta IX (1992) and the Venice Biennale (1993). Also in the early 1990s, he participated in the landmark exhibition, Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1992), as well as Individual Realities in the California Art Scene at the Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (1991), and Jean-Michel Basquiat & Manuel Ocampo at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (1994). He has subsequently participated in numerous museum exhibitions and biennials around the world, including the biennials of Gwangju (1997), Lyon (2000), Berlin (2001), Venice for a second time (2001), Seville (2004), and the Asia Pacific Triennial (2012).
Ocampo is known for fearlessly tackling the taboos and cherished icons of society and of the art world itself. During the 1990s, he was noted for his bold use of a highly charged iconography that combines Catholic imagery with motifs associated with racial and political oppression, creating works that make powerful, often conflicted, statements about the vicissitudes of personal and group identities. His works illustrate, often quite graphically, the psychic wounds that cut deep into the body of contemporary society. They translate the visceral force of Spanish Catholic art, with its bleeding Christs and tortured saints, into our postmodern, more secular era of doubt, uncertainty, and instability. In recent years, his works have featured more mysterious yet emotionally charged motifs that evoke an inner world of haunting visions and nightmares. He often makes use of an eclectic array of quasi-religious, highly idiosyncratic icons featuring teeth, fetuses, sausages, and body parts alongside more traditional Christian motifs. The process of artistic creation is often a central concern, with many works making ironic commentaries on notions of artistic inspiration, originality, and the anxiety of influence. The artist himself is frequently the subject of parody and self-mockery; sometimes he appears as a buzzard, a kind of cultural scavenger, or assumes slightly deranged alter egos. He frequently includes sly references to the works of other artists, just as in the past he often referred to the work of provincial painters of Catholic altars.
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Rollins Fine Art is pleased to present Transient Shelter, an exhibition of new works by Jakkai Siributr, taking place at our gallery in New York City from April 17 – May 31, 2014. The public is cordially invited to the opening reception on Thursday, April 17, from6:00 to 8:00 pm. The artist will be in attendance.
Jakkai has long been known as one of Thailand’s leading artists working with textiles, producing meticulously handmade tapestry and installation works that make powerful statements about religious, social, and political issues in contemporary Thailand. A main preoccupation of his art is the interaction between Buddhism and materialism in modern life, and the everyday popular culture of Thailand. In recent years, he has incorporated other materials and media in his work, including industrial and found materials, sound, and video. For Transient Shelter, Jakkai has produced a series of self-portrait photographs that have him “embodying” the elaborately embroidered and ornamented uniforms that are also part of the exhibition, along with a video work.
The exhibition is a meditation on the transience of worldly success and the way the trappings of social status are often imbued with quasi-mystical associations that maintain a link with animistic beliefs. With the photographs, Jakkai adopts poses taken from portraits of his ancestors, many of whom served as royal courtiers and in some cases had their lives cut short by the sometimes tragic vicissitudes of Thai political history. Wearing Thai civil service uniforms decked out with awards, he evokes the type of formal portrait photographs that are included in the funeral books that Thai families compile to commemorate the lives of relatives, and that typically emphasize the deceased person’s social status. Jakkai has encrusted the actual uniforms with elaborate ornaments that are inspired by Buddhist amulets and animist talismans, hinting at the deep-seated beliefs that underlie current social conventions. With some of the portraits, Jakkai poses in front of dilapidated backgrounds, pointing to the process of decay and rebirth that alludes to the cycle of life and death, as well as perhaps the state of social breakdown in today’s fractious Thailand. The exhibition title itself suggests that social status, like everything else in life, is but a transitory phase. This sense is heighted by the short video work, in which a uniform jacket slowly moves under flowing water, accompanied by a soundtrack of a burning funeral pyre.
Transient Shelter is curated by Singapore-based researcher, curator and critic Iola Lenzi, who writes in the catalogue essay: “mining local icons of religion and entrenched cultural tradition, Jakkai produces an art of thoughtful resistance that allusively takes aim at meaningless hierarchies, ineffective systems, and empty gestures masquerading as consequential. In its questioning of overlapping fiction and truth, dance with image and reality, and to-and-fro between life and death, Transient Shelter, though starting with ideas rooted in Thai culture, speaks to a universal audience.”
Born in 1969 in Bangkok, Thailand, where he currently lives and works, Jakkai received his formal training in the United States, earning a BA in textile and fine arts at Indiana University (1992) and an MS in printed textile design at Philadelphia University (1996). His work has been shown in a number of museums around the world in recent years. In the United Sates, his work was included in Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (2012), as well as the museum’sHere / Not Here: Buddha Presence in Eight Recent Works (2011). As part of the latter exhibition, Jakkai presented his interactive Reciprocity project in the Asian Art Museum’s Tateuchi Gallery; his work Recession (2010) subsequently entered the museum’s collection. In 2009, Jakkai’s Lucky Ware installation (2008) was featured at the Rubin Museum in New York City, and he was included in Truly Truthful in Miami. He has presented two solo exhibitions at Tyler Rollins Fine Art: Temple Fair (2008) and Karma Cash & Carry (2010). In Asia, Jakkai’s Shroud installation was recently featured in the exhibition, Exploring the Cosmos: The Stupa as a Buddhist Symbol (2012 – 2013) at Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum, which acquired the work for its permanent collection. In 2011, he presented a major exhibition of installations, sculptural works, and embroidered tapestries at the Art Center, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand (2011). He was a featured artist in the 2011 Chongqing Biennial and in the 2009 Asian Art Biennial at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, which acquired his work,Suffrage (2008). Other important collections of his work include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, and the Vehbi Koç Foundation, Istanbul.
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