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Image, Symbol, Prayer

2022. 12. 15 – 2023. 1. 29
Korakrit Arunanondchai

Korakrit Arunanondchai( b. 1986 ) 〈 You who wish to find prayers, look for it in the ashes ,2022,  Metallic paint and acrylic polymer on bleached denim on inkjet print on canvas,  218.4 x 162.6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery 

The ashes are where we pray in the space of unreality. Fire burns everything into a ground of irreducible matter. Who will remember the time when the world was on fire?

Ashes embody the anarchy of unclassifiable society, where the flame is neither quenched nor ready to be reignited again. This residue is yet to be reborn into oppositions, groups and regimes.

There is a universal time at the true center of the universe. It can be accessed when we gather to tell stories about the time before and after everything. These stories kindle the cycles of creation and decreation. This is where God exists. This is the space we pray to. This is death. What exists beyond death is a promise, one that is never fulfilled nor broken. It always leaves us with a sense of longing. Bodies of people gather under this promise.

From the fire to ashes: does a political system only become fully aware of itself as it’s on the verge of disappearing? Is it only understood by the victims of history in a world ablaze? The ashes mark our defeat, scattered below monuments forged by the winners.

“The Phoenix’s privilege,” writes Bachelard, “is to be reborn of its own self, not of the ‘ashes’ of others.” The Phoenix is averse to a community of and in ashes; it carries the ridiculous principle of autonomy through to its logical conclusion in death, and even beyond death. But it is precisely this community devoid of hope for another life or another fire, one where my incinerated self is mixed with the ‘ashes’ of others.

We formed our symbolic relationship to the world and to each other by making and looking into fire. As we gathered around it searching for images and symbols, the ground beneath and the sky above bore witness.

New meanings will be made along the way, in the form of a dream. Because dreams are more powerful than history. Because dreams escape death.

Korakrit Arunanondchai( b. 1986 ) 〈 Who will testify to the time when the world was ablaze? 〉, 2022,  Acrylic polymer on gold foil on bleached denim on inkjet print on canvas,  218.4 x 162.6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery 

Kukje Gallery is pleased to present “Image, Symbol, Prayer,” a solo exhibition of the Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai, on view at the gallery’s K3 space from December 15, 2022, through January 29, 2023. This will be the artist’s first exhibition at the gallery since the announcement of his representation in 2021. Working across a diverse range of mediums from video and performance to painting and installation, Arunanondchai interweaves an intricate codependency of forms to ask fundamental questions regarding existence and meaning, processed through the personal and the collective, life and death, and different belief systems. In this first exhibition with the gallery, Arunanondchai’s History Paintings surround the viewer on a floor made from compressed ash and clay. A prayer text is sculpted into the floor and reads:

In the beginning there was discovery / New nightmares, to challenge sleep / The need to impose order unto chaos / We create this world through unanswered prayers. / There’s a splendor beyond the upheaval / A nostalgia for unity / In the landscape of mourning / Give yourself to the air, to what you cannot hold / The ghost possesses Nothing

Kukje Gallery  K3  Korakrit Arunanondchai《 Image, Symbol, Prayer 》Installation Courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery 

Above the prayer that runs along the edge of the room are History Paintings and Voids (sky paintings). Begun in 2012, Arunanondchai’s iconic series of History Paintings uses denim as its primary material, initially chosen because of its connection to a history of labor and Western forces of globalization. The artist bleaches and then builds upon layers of painting onto the denim, often using his body imprint and relief transfer technique that captures the texture of the earth. These surfaces become a stage for the fire to perform on and a material for it to consume. In these paintings, fire acts as both Arunanondchai’s process and subject; an entanglement between form and content. When the painting is set on fire, Arunanondchai photographs the painting as it burns away. Once the fire is extinguished, remaining fragments of the paintings and their resultant ashes are assembled back together with a photographic documentation of the painting on fire, into an object that carries the image of its own making.

Intrigued by the term “medium specificity” in art and its association with spirit-mediums, Arunanondchai has long been fascinated by non-human forces and how they impact our political systems and shared reality. Related to this, fire and ash have been important materials in Arunanondchai’s thinking and narrating of personal, social incidents. It is on this pyro-spiritual journey centered around ash—the remnant from the fire that burns everything into a ground of irreducible matter—that viewers are invited to survey the universal cycle of creation and de-creation.

 Kukje Gallery  K3  Korakrit Arunanondchai《 Image, Symbol, Prayer 》Installation Courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery 

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