Manit Sriwanichpoom’s latest photographic exhibition is a double project featuring “Holy Machismo” and “Obscene”. If I was a Thai censor, or a Thai MP, I would certainly classify Manit’s work in the disturbing or controversial category, and possibly try to silence him.
But Manit’s approach is probably too subtle to appear on the censorship radar. Obscene (2012) are Baroque nudes. These Caravaggesque, charged and saturated color photographs confront the garish vulgarity of present-day Thai politics: administrations, drunk on power, trumpet ideals of democracy while painting themselves as self-sacrificing heroes, defenders of freedom, and harbingers of ‘justice’ to our benighted country.
Holy Machismo consists of semi-abstract black and white photographs of traditional Thai lingams: fertility symbols widely used as sacred offerings with the aim of sponsoring prosperity.
Manit’s extreme close-ups of these sacred dildos alternate between sharp definition and blurriness; sometimes they are brightly lit, and sometimes appear as dark and looming. We might wonder if we are looking at arrogant black snakes leaping to freedom or perhaps Darth Vader himself, or some holy derivative of such a presence.
Manit says that this series reflects a newly 50-year-old man’s creeping sexual insecurity as he contemplates his balding head.
Both series are essentially linked by the artist’s interest in masculine (yang) vices of greed and lust.
H Gallery Bangkok is very pleased to announce the latest exhibition by one of Thailand’s most internationally acclaimed artists. Obscene is a showcase of two new series of photographs, Holy Machismo and Obscene.
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Manit Sriwanichpoom has a long-standing career and exhibits widely, including: Centre Pompidou (Paris, 2010), the Asia Pacific Triennial (Australia, 2009), Photoquai (Paris, 2007), Gwangju Biennale (Korea, 2006), the Venice Biennale (2003), Photo Espana (2001), the Hayward Gallery (UK, 1999) and Bienal de Sao Paulo (1998).
His solo shows include ‘Phenomena & Prophecies’ at the Singapore Art Museum (2010); ‘Lambs of God’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (Melbourne, Australia, 2008); ‘Bangkok in Pink’ at the Yokohama Museum of Art (2002) and ‘Man in Pink’ at Galerie VU’, Paris (2007).
His works are collected by the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie (Paris), the DG Bank (Germany), the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Japan), the Queensland Art Gallery (Australia), the Singapore Art Museum and well-known private collectors. In 2002 he was picked as one of the world’s 100 most interesting emerging photographers by Phaidon Press in their book BLINK. In 2007 he was awarded the Higashikawa Overseas Photographer Prize from Japan.