Wednesday, February 13, 2008


by narissara pianwimungsa
playgallery, playground store
April 6 - may 5, 2007

The ego undressed
Published on Jul 1, 2007

You art what you wear? Narissara Pianwimungsa borrowed some clothes and found that it's not so
Narissara Pianwimungsa spent two months last year dressed up in other people's clothes. Hardly destitute, she was on the contrary enriching her identity in the eyes of others and herself. Now Narissara is documenting the experience in a collection of haunting oil paintings on view at the Bangkok boutique mall Playground.
Her exhibition "Reflex", continuing through Saturday, is an exploration of the sense of isolation that she feels - and exploits to good effect in her work.
"One day a friend said she'd seen a T-shirt that would really suit me," says Narissara, whose usual garb is a T-shirt and blue jeans.
"It got me wondering whether someone's personality can be seen through the kind of clothes they wear. So I was inspired to borrow some clothes from acquaintances who have different personalities and dress styles than I do.
"I believe their personalities were at least reflected in the articles of clothing they gave me. Most of them selected something in neutral tones. Some of the items were either too small or too big.
"But it struck me how every time I looked in the mirror I felt strange - insecure. I may have been clinging to my own ego."
During those two months, Narissara - a Silpakorn University graduate who is currently the art director for a women's magazine - deliberately got away from everyone who had preconceptions about her by attending an art workshop in the US.
"I don't think anyone there sensed what was going on, but I felt awkward and unconfident. Clothes and emotions go together - we feel secure when we're wearing our own clothes and they fit the situation we're in," says Narissara, 31.
Her distinctive figurative paintings in intense hues - leaden greys, nocturnal blues, deep red - first caught the public eye when Yuthlert Sippapak used some in his 2003 movie "February", believing their dark mystery added to its dark tone.
In the works on view at Playground, only Narissara's eyes are revealed behind layers of clothing, but they are fiercely staring eyes that refuse to be concealed.
"Clothes should be a protective covering, but in fact the wearer doesn't feel confident," she says. "Looking at my paintings I feel that I look so sad."
As in her pervious collection, the new pieces have an aura of loneliness and isolation, and they too are memorable for their startling, dreamlike quality.
"I always feel alienated when I'm surrounded by people. We have more freedom in today's world, but at the same time we are increasingly interested in creating our own private, personalised environments, while shutting out the rest of humanity.
"But the sorrow I feel doesn't leave me downhearted. I don't think my isolation and loneliness are any more intense than what other people feel. I use these emotions to make a point in my work. Painting to me is joyous, even when the subject is not."
Growing up with two younger brothers, Narissara always lived in her own little bubble, with her own clothes and toys.
"In some families, sisters have to share clothes, but I'm an only daughter so I didn't have that experience, and that's why I felt uneasy dressing in other people's clothes."
Narissara's early paintings were distorted self-portraits. She moved on to the top halves of figures, then full figures with some parts twisted or omitted.
"I used to paint two versions of my face in a single painting, one dreamlike and one realistic. They were talking to each other, with the dream face revealing ideas that the real-world face wouldn't have dared consider."
While dark tones dominate her work, Narissara employed pastels in last year's show "Strange Love".
"Pure love may exist, I know," she says, "but at the time I wanted to project a view of love as something hidden. Sometimes we want somebody to make us stronger.
"Right now I'm interested in the relationship between clothing and emotions. For my next collection I may work outside the frame. It doesn't mean that I'm getting bored with painting, but a medium should follow ideas."

Playground, on Soi Thong Lor (Sukhumvit 55), is open daily from 10am to 11pm. Call (02) 714 7888.

From : Khetsirin Pholdhampalit
The Nation

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