NATEE UTARIT (Thailand b. 1970)
NATEE UTARIT (Thailand b. 1970)

The Ball of Greed and Illusion No. 3

Details
NATEE UTARIT (Thailand b. 1970)
The Ball of Greed and Illusion No. 3
oil on canvas
67 x 55 1/8 in. (170 x 140 cm.)
Painted in 2008
Exhibited
Kuala Lumpur, Valentine Willie Fine Art, Dreams, Hope and Perfection, September 2008 (illustrated in colour, exh. cat., p. 19)

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Mingyin Lin
Mingyin Lin

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Lot Essay

"[It] represents a situation where the desirability of an object, or the image of an object, supersedes any other prior significance." - Natee Utarit, Dreams, Hope and Perfection

Emerging within the last five years as an emblematic voice of contemporary Thai society, Natee Utarit's pictorial language navigates the tensions arising between objective representation, cultural significance, and the loci of memory. Utarit's work often appears aphasic; the lack of tangible dynamism or coherent dialogic form means that interpretation often has to be sought within the most basic constructs of his pared-down visual metaphors.

The Ball of Greed and Illusion No. 3 is part of a series in which Utarit draws artistic signifiers from images found within children's textbooks of the 1950s. Like Proust's madeleine, the object within Utarit's work is irrevocably viewed as a relic of nostalgia rather than a self-functioning metaphor. The Ball of Greed and Illusion No. 3 is a key example of how the artist manipulates a highly familiar image, such as a child's toy of an inflatable beach ball, as a nullified repository into which layers of memory can be decanted. Yet the artist is also keenly aware that human memory itself is often fluid, disingenuous, and already shaped by the passage of personal as well as societal history. This is supported through his application of an evocative colour theory, seen throughout multiple works in his practice. The gold-hued shade of yellow on the beach ball is indicative of the precepts of Mahanyana Buddhism, as well as being the ideological representation of the Thai king and nation. The other colours of red, white and blue, are derived from the stripes of the Thai flag. When conjoined with the motif of a half-deflated beach ball, both colours and form are bereft of full functionality and become subject to multiple cross-cultural readings. Utarit's art forces the inference of socio-political resonances, while remaining fundamentally apolitical in shape and construct; a binary opposition often found within his works at large.
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