Navin Rawanchaikul, Same Same but Yesterday, 1999/2009, oil on canvas, 90x140cm
During the latter half of the 19th century there existed a curious, overlooked perverse and cruel form of anthropological exploiting. In imitations of small villages, exotic native inhabitants were placed out in the public gaze of curious Europeans. Paul Gauguin loved the human zoo as much as he loved the shows of Buffalo Bills Wild West. These two factors combined made him travel to Tahiti dressed in a cowboy hat and with the easel under his arm.
Today most people are unified in the belief that the primitivism, regardless of the beautiful rhetoric in which Baudelaire and Rousseau enclosed themselves, was mostly kitsch and clichés. Navin Rawanchaikul does exactly like Paul Gauguin but the other way around. Rather than being inspired by our strange and exotic culture he incorporates it with the use of his own aesthetic references.
It is same same but different when Rawanchaikul inspects Stockholm in general and our art life in particular. In the selected scenes of the paintings a recognisable register of characters appears, though produced in a form that is unrecognisable to us. An environment freed from cultural conventions emerges in Navin:s representation of us that offers a much needed humoristic distance.
Navin Rawanchaikul, born in 1971 in Chang Mai, follows up on the Navinland Pavillion as Thailand´s official representative at this year's Venice Biennale with his second solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will hold both new works from the Biennale such as Mission Navinland (2011) and Navinland Needs You (2011) as well as older works for example Fly with Me to Another World (To be Continued) 2008. Also for the exhibition, Navin has created a Navinland Comic where he embarks on an action filled trip to Stockholm. The Comic picks up on the painting Navinland where he has depicted many of his dear friends from Sweden.
Rawanchaikul is well known for his dynamic practice that often directly engages the public through interventions and social comments. He often involves, as in this exhibition, the local community and individual experiences in his fictive narrative. Furthermore he has enjoyed international recognition and participated in a number of major exhibitions at prestigious institutions and galleries including: New York´s P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre (2001), Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2002), Jim Thompson Art Centre in Bangkok (2006), Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai (2008) and Beijing´s Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art (2009).
He has participated in international exhibitions and festivals, a list that includes Sydney Biennale (1998), Lyon Biennale (2000), SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (2000), Yokohama Triennale (2001/2005), Shanghai Biennale (2002), Sao Paulo Biennale (2004), Liverpool Biennale (2004), Nuit Blanche Paris (2006), Prospect.1 New Orleans (2008), Tate Triennale (2009), Aichi Triennale (2010) as well as the Singapore Biennale and the Venice Biennale (2011).
Rawanchaikul´s works are housed in the collection of several renowned collections and museums including Sweden´s Moderna Museet, Magasin 3 Stockholm, Foundazione Sandretto Re Rebaundengo per L´Arte in Italy, FRAC and Le Consortium in France, Pinchuk Art Centre in Ukraine, The UBS Art Collection in Switzerland, Inhotim in Brazil, Queensland Art Gallery in Australia, Japan´s Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Bank of Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum, as well as numerous private collections worldwide.