Chatchai Puipia: Sites of Solitude

Chatchai Puipia 09 Apr 2015 - 31 Aug 2015


Still-Life, Self-Portraiture, and the Living Archive

in collaboration with Thai Art Archives™ and the artist’s A Leg Up Society, Bangkok----

·     A 9-month, 2-part exhibition featuring monumental self-portrait paintings from a new series of 2014-2015; selected, rarely exhibited paintings and sculpture; never-exhibited drawings and sketches; guest-documentary photography and video

·     Debut of the Chatchai Puipia Archive, chronicling the artist’s life and work within a new archival database,, sponsored by 100 Tonson Gallery in creative collaboration with Thai Art Archives, Bangkok

·     Public symposium and related events

·     Exhibition and archives curated by Gregory Galligan, Ph.D., Director & Co-Founder, Thai Art Archives

·     OPENING RECEPTION: THURS, 9 APRIL, 7:009:00 p.m.

CHATCHAI PUIPIA (b. 1964) has distinguished himself for over two decades as one of his generation’s most sophisticated and prodigious painters, indeed ever since graduating in the late 1980s from Silpakorn University, Thailand’s premier art academy. After an early foray into abstract assemblage, Puipia has painted prodigiously for over two decades in an idiom that might loosely be termed, “Thai Magic Realism.” Culling images from everyday life and his creative imagination—self-portrait, still-life, allegorical mise-en-scène, Puipia’s paintings (and more recently, sculpture) are powerful sites of self-reflection, creative solitude, and social critique that not only lend lasting form to an artist’s dogged search for self-identity, but allude to his society’s simultaneous grappling with its own existential condition at an unprecedented historical threshold, as hallowed traditions emphasizing personal modesty, self-sufficiency, and spiritual cultivation have been increasingly losing ground to 21st century consumerism and trans-global pop culture (much of which has been fueled worldwide by the Internet, the debut and development of which has paralleled Puipia’s own artistic coming of age).

Thus Chatchai Puipia’s work is a complex amalgam of both familiar and far-reaching sources. History, nation, personal ancestry, artistic profession—Puipia’s work continues to function as a crucial touchstone for reflecting on how much a contemporary artist’s identity exercises itself as a “free agent” under such “hyper-globalized” conditions, and, in turn, how some of that identity arises out of a confluence of much greater, transcultural energies converging in virtually unforeseen, or unpremeditated fashion.

Puipia’s late-1990s self-portraits depicting a seductive, yet discomfiting “Siamese Smile”—as he himself called it in an important solo exhibition of 1995—as well as countless, quasi-narrative pictures depicting a tragic-comic “jester” assuming inane postures (the artist frequently depicts himself doubled over and peering gleefully at his audience upside-down and backwards through his own haunches), suggest that a world observed from an inverted position perhaps makes more sense than when observed upright. For many observers, these recurring devices have come to lend expression to a decisive moment in Thai art history itself, when regional artists’ conversations with old masters of the “West,” combined with satirical references to contemporary Thai mores, effectively represent the larger culture in spiritual and social crisis. 

In the wake of Chatchai Puipia’s stunning artist’s book, Chatchai is dead. If not, he should be (2010), 100 Tonson Gallery, in creative collaboration with the artist and Thai Art Archives™, celebrates Puipia’s enduring achievement, legacy, and continuous development with the installation of a 9-month, “living archive” in the Gallery featuring selected works from the artist’s current, monumental self-portrait series; selected rarely-exhibited drawings, paintings, and sculptures; new documentary photography and video contributed by fashion-art photographer, Leewei Swee; and the debut of the “Chatchai Puipia Archive,” which comprehensively documents Puipia’s life and work at the new, Gallery-sponsored digital platform,

The exhibition and digital archive take up Chatchai Puipia’s life and work as a continuously evolving phenomenon, even through a recent period of self-imposed solitude (ca. 2010–2015), during which the artist never stopped working. The exhibition and archive suggest that through numerous “sites” of past and present creation, the living, “archival” (i.e. “multi-layered”) nature of the artist’s identity endures as an ever-shifting constellation of forces, some unpredictable, others self-directed, yet all continuing—as in years past—to mirror Thailand’s own perpetually morphing, if periodically self-conflicted condition.

100ArtistArchives & Chatchai Puipia Exhibition Launch: April 2015

Exhibition: April–December 2015, 100 Tonson Gallery, Bangkok


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