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Jiab Prachakul: 14 Years
January 23, 2021 - March 26, 2021Free
Friends Indeed Gallery is pleased to present the first U.S. solo exhibition for Thai-artist Jiab Prachakul. Prachakul was born in Nakhon Phanom, a small town on the Mekong River in northeast Thailand. She studied filmography at Thammasat University before working as a casting director at a Bangkok production company. In 2006, she relocated to London and became inspired to paint after seeing a David Hockney retrospective. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Berlin. In a city known for its bohemian community of artists, Prachakul continued to pursue an entirely self-taught practice, making portraits of her flock of friends, many of whom were involved with fashion, film, and the visual arts.
For her show with Friends Indeed, Prachakul presents a significant new body of work exploring the nuances of Asian diasporic representation through a series of intimate portraits. The artist says:
Our identity is dictated to us from the moment we are born, but as we grow up, identity is what we actually choose to be. I do believe that our circle of friends is what makes us who we are. We are all outsiders, Asian artists living abroad, and their deep friendship has offered me a ground on where I can stand and embrace my own identity.
A keen observer, Prachakul approaches the complexity of identity and authenticity through the genre of figurative painting. Pop cultural depictions of Asian Americans are historically monotropic—often casting characters in secondary roles as perpetual foreigners, villainous adversaries, or meek members of the model minority. In contrast, Prachakul’s subjects are always leading figures, manifesting a vast range of personalities and emotional registers. An exuberant young girl in costume. A stylish couple with cool removal. A mired and moody youth. Her story-driven subjects play a social and psychological role, reimagining the traditional framework of portraiture as a space to rewrite staid narratives and representational tropes. Sometimes a single figure is presented humbly against an abstract field of color and other times, they are surrounded by the intricacies of a dense, domestic backdrop. In each interpretation, Prachakul’s colorful and dynamic compositions dis- play a delicate attention to detail. Her paintings convey both an immediacy and depth that cast her subjects in a humanizing and intimate light rather than perpetuate their status as Other. There is a general sense of culture, taste, and intellect —a refined internationalism not typically displayed in American genres.
An accompanying exhibition catalogue will feature an essay by Xiaoyu Weng, Associate Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, New York and curator of the 5th Ural Biennale for Contemporary Art, and an interview between the Artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.