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Richard Koh Fine Art Singapore
Artspace @ Helutrans
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Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore 089065   map * 
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Sweet Routine
by Richard Koh Fine Art Singapore
Location: Richard Koh Fine Art Singapore
Artist(s): Promthum WORAVUT
Date: 18 Jun - 30 Jun 2014

The innocence and carefreeness in the lives of modern Asian youths are now punctured by heavy expectations. In order to lead a “successful” adult life, strict training starts at pre and elementary schools in which apart from learning societies’ social skills and academic subjects, children are conditioned to cherish the spirit of friendly competition and develop their innate talents. With carefully combed side-parted hair, ironed and clean outfits and bright knowledge-hungry eyes, these “mini adults” are being groomed into personified images of success.

Parents who desire to mould their children into possible future prime ministers or bank governors would fork out large amount of resources for supplementary scholastic guidance, such as evening home tuition classes and after school activities. A repetitive circuit of consumption, storage and application of data mark their lives. Additionally, academic excellence is further decorated with certificates of achievements and glossy athletic trophies and medals. The young Thai artist, Promthum Woravut’s interest in the monotonous cycle of contemporary existence is based on his observation of the life routine of his adolescent nephew. He witnessed the modern Thai society values material achievements in life up to the point of abandoning a more free and spontaneous existence.

In Promthum’s opinion, success at different stages of life seems to be a criterion set by the majority in society, and it is often prescribed as a fixed formula for the hoi polloi to follow in order to be accepted by society. Children are busy competing with one other in a cycle of success that is derived from education, so that they may be accepted and secure a prospective career in the future. Employees who depend on wage labor try to stick to the work cycle, in order to climb the social ladder that may lead them to happiness, progress and security. But all of these must be bartered for many costs in life. The strife of life seems endless and can be compared to a search for emptiness on an aimless route.

Promthum’s acrylic paintings on canvas, mixing the technique of painting as well as of stenciling apply the repetition of simplified icons and signs as either veils that gently mask the portraits or as tight spaces in which the artifacts of reward are painted. His images habitually juxtapose the single iconic image against the repetitive icons. Repetition in art history has always been associated with the period of post-war art in America, touching on issues such as the production of artworks informed by the age of mechanical reproduction as well as the nature of the presentation of consumer goods. The repeated gesture signals the departure from the expressive and private in favor of the anonymous and mechanical characteristics of repetition. Though in Promthum’s works, the repeated icons manually painted in pastel palette with a high degree of technical “care” have somewhat subverted the “coldness” of replication.

His paintings of polished trophies and medals, which are representations of achievements, are related to his portraits of children. The figures in the portraits, which are adolescents such as his nephew, are in reality, trophies for their parents. The children’s success in life will reflect on their parents’ parental abilities and as stated by the artist, “they are unfulfilled dreams that parents desire to redeem through their children”.

-Richard Koh Fine Art

Image: © Promthum Woravut
Courtesy of the artist and Richard Koh Fine Art

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