February 14, 2013 00:00
By Phatarawadee Phataranawik
BACC show communicates the truths of dharma
Fashion photographer and avid dharma practitioner Punsiri Siriwetchapun believes there is little difference between working on his art and meditation.
“The teaching of Lord Buddha seeks to achieve the cessation of suffering. The way to undo suffering is to explore the causes as they manifest themselves in our own bodies and minds in order to understand their origins. It’s the same with my art. I search within myself to convey my thoughts. My art presents my inner self,” says Punsiri who has been practising dharma for more than a decade.
Punsiri has teamed up with three fellow artists for the devotional exhibition “No Absolute Truth in the Universe” at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. In addition to Punsiri’s conceptual photography-based works, Kesvita Rotpan contributes statues of the human figure and fantastic paintings along with installations by brothers Chaiyo and Ongart Loeamornpagsin.
The works of art by these four artists can in many ways be compared to the four levels of lotuses in Buddhist teaching. Veteran Punsiri’s impressive conceptual photography-based works are synonymous with the top level – the lotus living above the water. He clearly conveys Buddhist teaching through his black-and-white photography and installations.
Viewing Punsiri’s video and sound installation “The Physique” is not unlike practising meditation. Your eyes are focused on the black and white images of three x-ray-like figures sitting in the lotus position projected on the wall while your ears are tuned in to the sentimental solo piano sounds of Thanachai Ujjin, better known as Pod Moderndog, also an avid dharma practitioner.
Punsiri further conveys his meditation experience in “To Cross the Samsara 1/2012”. Presented as a Giclee print on a light-box, the x-ray of a human skeleton has the universe as its background. The photography seems simple, but concentrate for a while and you will see tiny bursts of light on the forehead, the heart, shoulders and stomach alternately. The lights refer to the pain that sometimes occurs when you meditate for a long period. The skeleton, this time is a flying pose transposed on the universe, also appears in his “To Cross The Samsara 2/2012”. On another wall, Punsiri displays stark black-and-white images of roads leading to the Himalayan mountain peaks and the edge of the universe.
Chaiyo’s minimalist sculpture installation “”Doo Kai Doo Chit” (“Contemplating the Body, Contemplating the Minds”) speaks directly to Punsiri’s collection. A clay man attired in a business suit sits across from Pansiri’s “To Cross the Samsara” series. The sculpture appears to be meditating though his right hand occasionally moves. Ten men in the same uniform stand against another wall. They look the same, but three of them can move their hands and fingers.
“Many people think that dharma practice is limited to the temple. I think meditation can be done everywhere, so I dress my sculptures in the costumes of everyday life,” explains Chaiyo, who has been practising dharma for more a year.
His older brother Ongart conveys his personal knowledge of art and dharma after practising both for decades. His sculpture collection “Uncertainly” features a series of cut-off human and animal figures. On the floor are human heads and lower torsos, horse heads and hindquarters and a suffering bird screaming.
Young artist Kesvita searches her inner self both through art and dharma. Her figurative paintings portray women in beautiful costumes along with horses, snakes, shells and a peacock. Beautiful dresses refer to the human desire, while animals represent danger hidden behind the beauty.
Like the practise of dharma itself, this exhibition is best appreciated through personal experience.
- “No Absolute Truth in the Universe” runs until Sunday on the fourth floor of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. For more details, visit www.BACC.or.th.