We are pleased to present Ma-lai, Pinaree Sanpitak’s third solo exhibition with Tyler Rollins Fine Art, taking place from September 10 through October 24, 2015. Pinaree is one of the most compelling and respected Thai artists of her generation, and her work can be counted among the most powerful explorations of women’s experience in all of Southeast Asia. Her primary inspiration over the past twenty-five years has been the female body, distilled to its most basic forms and imbued with an ethereal spirituality. Her work in a wide variety of media – painting, drawing, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, performance, and culinary arts, to name but a few – is informed by a quiet minimalism that owes something to her training in Japan and sets it apart from the colorful intensity of much Thai art. Often called a feminist or Buddhist artist, she resists such easy categorizations, preferring to let her work speak to each viewer directly, to the heart and soul, with the most basic language of form, color, and texture.
The exhibition centers on a hanging fabric installation, alongside a related series of paintings and sculptures, all taking inspiration from ma-lai floral garlands, which play a symbolic role in Thai ceremonial occasions from birth to death, from exuberant celebrations to quiet personal contemplation. It is an art form originally taught to women in the Thai royal court, who created intricate designs of great refinement. Pinaree’s installation, with its large-scale garlands that are at once delicate and monumental, evokes the female body, intimately linked to a sense of the enduring bonds of cultural traditions, family, and spirituality. “Ma-lai is a subtle comment on the conditions of life, not only to cherish the wonders but also to pay respect to the struggles and losses,” Pinaree explains. “I started working with ma-lai over a year ago, finding a way to transform small fabric pieces into petal patterns, and it finally evolved into three different elements, starting with the geometrical construction of ma-lai in toile, then the organic paintings in acrylic with pencil and dried flowers, and the cast metal sculptures of my breast cloud forms connected with garlands of actual flowers. The ‘body’ of ma-lai transforms, portraying certain mindsets and emotions.”
Pinaree’s work has been featured in numerous museum exhibitions in Asia and Europe over the past twenty years, and she has participated in major biennials in Australia, Italy, Japan, and Korea. A selection of her works from 1995-2013 was recently seen in a solo exhibition at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in Sydney, Australia (2014). In 2013, she presented two solo exhibitions at US museums: at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, featuring her large-scale installation, Hanging By a Thread; and at the Contemporary Austin, with another large-scale installation, Temporary Insanity, which was also exhibited in the artist’s solo exhibition at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia (2012). At the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012) she showed a large-scale installation, Anything Can Break, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Subsequently on view at the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio (2014-15), the installation comprises thousands of origami “flying cubes” and breast-shaped glass clouds suspended from the ceiling, with musical motifs triggered by motion sensors in response to the audience’s movements. Stainless steel sculptures from her Breast Stupa Topiary series were featured in the group exhibition, Female Power, at the Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, The Netherlands (2013) and are currently on view in front of ILHAM art gallery in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.