Untitled Poems of Théodore Rousseau
2.7 - 3.15, 2018
Hong Kong - H Queen's
Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong is proud to announce the opening of “Untitled Poems of Théodore Rousseau,” a solo exhibition for noted Thai contemporary artist Natee Utarit, on February 7, 2018. This exhibition features a series that the artist created in the Fontainebleau forest in France, seeking the wonder of the imagery and subjects of landscape painting as a homage to Théodore Rousseau, the leader of the Barbizon school.
Natee Utarit is a noted artist active in the international contemporary art world, with a deep yet wide-ranging artistic practice. He stresses the links between painting, photography, and Western classical art as a key method in exploring painting as a mode of image production. He uses complex and ambiguous images and rich metaphors in traditional still lifes that emphasize the current Thai social and political landscape. His work has been collected by many important art institutions and foundations around the world.
From spring to autumn 2017, Natee Utarit lived in Barbizon, a southern suburb of Paris, France, where he spent several months making art. Living and working in the nearby Fontainebleau forest was extremely stimulating for his thought and artwork, keeping him in a state of constant excitement about his art. The works exhibited here depict the oak trees in Fontainebleau forest. In confronting nature and the self, Natee Utarit focuses on the relationship between concept and subject, as well as the relationship between a conceptual perspective on landscape painting and visions of the world or space. He always attempts to use different times and places, working with a style and technique that was different from the past and that persistently expanded and remolded his way of thinking about landscape painting. “Every person has a different perception of reality and completeness. I experienced the landscape as I worked; it was a particularly fresh and solid experience.
Oak trees were a perpetual theme for the Barbizon school. For Natee Utarit, the work of Théodore Rousseau, the leader of the Barbizon school, contains a “cool melancholy.” Oak trees, the protagonists of the painting, and the surrounding environment setting them off represent the natural landscape, and reflect the artist’s personality and aesthetic taste. Natee Utarit’s work is deeply influenced by the history of Western painting. In his work, he studies and deconstructs Renaissance-era classical oil paintings and postmodernist styles, but he also ponders his own cultural position and identity as a Thai artist. In this all-new oak tree series, Natee Utarit attempts to use the Barbizon school’s methods of landscape painting to express his perceptions of poetry and freedom. Through expressive brushwork and technique, he breaks with prejudices about the themes of landscape painting. He captures the soul of these organisms, interpreting the oak trees with his own style and technique. These landscape works depart from his previous, purely narrative modes. Here, he integrates an observational method into an artistic medium.
For Natee Utarit, the expressive methods of contemporary painting are no longer limited to presenting real objects; he perceives and deciphers the elements of the objects beneath the surface. Through his work, the creator and the viewer free themselves from their own obstacles, and shift their gaze to the stories and spirits behind the image. Natee Utarit’s independent, majestic oak trees reflect the hundred-year history of landscape painting, as well as the simplicity and profundity of man looking at nature.
Natee Utarit (b. 1970, Bangkok) studied at the College of Fine Art in 1987 and graduated in Graphic Arts at the Painting and Sculpture Faculty at Silpakorn University, both in Bangkok, Thailand in 1991. Solo exhibitions include Optimism Is Ridiculous: The Altarpieces, Ayala Museum, Manila, Philippines (2017), Illustration of the Crisis, Bangkok University Gallery, Bangkok, Thailand (2013), After Painting, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2010) and The Amusement of Dreams, Hope and Perfection, Art Center of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand (2007).
Recent group exhibitions include Thai Eye, BACC, Bangkok, Thailand and Saatchi Gallery, London, UK (2016/2015), Art of ASEAN, Bank Negara Museum and Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2015), Time of Others, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan (2015) and Asian Art Biennale 2013: Everyday Life, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Taiwan (2013).
His work is part of many renowned collections, such the Bangkok University, Bangkok, Silpakorn University, Bangkok, British Council, Bangkok, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Thailand, Lasalle - SIA College of the Arts, Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, Fine Art Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia, Burger Collection, Hong Kong and Switzerland as well as private collections in Europe and Asia. Utarit’s multifaceted practice focuses on the exploration of the medium of painting connecting it with photography and classical Western art. Light and perspective are some of the elements the artist chose to work with, focusing on painting as a means to explore image making. His complex pictures, juggle wide-ranging metaphors usually in the format of the traditional still life, allude to Thailand’s current social and political landscapes.
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