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The exhibition “Breaking out of the Cocoon, Growing out of Rice” presents the recent works of Montri Toemsombat, a contemporary young Thai artist who has gained prominent recognition for works including those incorporating rice as one of the medium. The sculptures, installation art, videos and photographs displayed in this exhibition were all made by the artist from leftover materials provided by the Jim Thompson Factory in Pakthongchai District, Nakorn Ratchasima Province.

For this exhibition the artist invites viewers to enjoy a compilation of artworks created over the past decade from diverse natural materials. They reveal his perception of harmony as the essential factor bonding together life, society, culture and nature. According to the artist the lessons obtained from experiences can be transformed into elements that constitute a meaningful life. Inspired by nature and social political situation, he sees an analogy in the flight of the moth as a revolutionary phase evoked by its breaking out from the protective cocoon. And, he also interprets as a declaration of freedom the act of rice securing its young root in the earth while thrusting its first young leaf into the sky. The artist views these two natural phenomena as related to the nurturing of motherhood and the support of fatherhood which are the basic elements of humanity.

Montri has invited three fellow artists who share similar views about the pursuit of art to take part in this exhibition. The three artists who have been asked to join the project are Santiphap Ingong-ngam, Kornkrit Jianpinidnan, and Jarunun Phantachat. Montri previously collaborated with Jim Thompson Art Center in 1999 for his first solo exhibition “Cocoon; the Renaissance”, an exhibition held at Ayara Hall at the Jim Thompson House. In addition, he was also the recipient of a James H.W. Thompson Foundation scholarship (2008 to 2009) to conduct research relating to the Silk Road.

The present exhibition is divided into three parts. “Breaking out of the Cocoon” is the main display which is comprised of a labyrinth constructed from disused silkworm sieve plates. Inside the labyrinth is barbed wire, previously used by Montri in his improvised art in 2002 which has been installed as a silk cocoon sculpture (mixed media and fiber). This section contains sculptures and installation symbolizing an ironic perception of significant Thai political and economic-related books. The irony is created by placing more importance on the colors of the silk than on the content of the books. The overemphasis on color can be interpreted as the freedom to learn because how one learns is influenced by how publications are categorized. Montri chooses to portray this issue by showing it in opposition to the aforementioned barbed wired cocoon which is an icon of boundary, protection, and limitations on freedom and the right to learn. In addition, there is a five-minute video performance titled “Tu Me Manques” showing a couple of the same gender yet of different nationalities, cultures and beliefs. Unconditional love, regardless of background or differences is a metaphor of the political issues that present day society is facing. Alternating still images document a passage as they gradually turn into flames as Montri yearns for the happiness and peace once present in his homeland.

The next display entitled “Growing out of Rice” in Room Exit Number 1, is an installation fabricated from more than one hundred hanging books of varying sizes which have been made out of code paper used in the factory to encode the textile design. The barbed wired cocoon figure conveys the meaning of birth, protection, nurture, yet limited freedom. Growing rice on the books represents the freedom to learn, especially the necessity to obtain lessons from nature. The grains suggest the importance of independent study through observing and interacting with the environment. To question is the stepping stone towards an intellectual and truthful path that will eventually lead to true freedom.

The last part of the exhibition is “Art Journey Link” which was realized in collaboration with Montri’s colleagues and revolves around the theme of life as a journey in the pursuit of happiness and dreams. Working together for the show, the three artists share their experiences and support for one another. Santiphap Ingong-ngarm’s short film “From Peace to Peace” documents people named Santiphap (peace) making wishes for peace. Kornkrit Jianpinidnan exhibits black and white photographs portrayed in an illusionary style to depict realistic situations in specific time and space context. His work titled “As Tear Go By” speaks of the focal point between oneself and one’s environment. Jarunun Phantachat, the performer and co-founder of B-Floor Theater, has assembled segments of her films which show her various acting performances over the past ten years.

In speaking about the exhibition the artist says, “To return to Jim Thompson Art Center where I had my first exhibition ten years ago is such a meaningful step in my journey. To stand in each room in contemplation is to travel back in time and return to where it all began. I realized that I have never been afar; my journey started here, full of stories and companionships. It is in these rooms that I wish to reunite with my past. I have invited many colleagues who have spent and shared parts of their lives with me in this pursuit of art. No matter where they are, they still continue to answer their passion. Hence, this is the opportune occasion for us to return to speak of our experiences from our journeys.

The exhibition “Breaking out of the Cocoon, Growing out of Rice” will be held at Jim Thompson Art Center before traveling to other venues which include the Art on the Farm project organized in context with the Jim Thompson Farm Tour. Jim Thompson Farm, Amphur Pakthongchai, Nakorn Ratchasima. Later the exhibition will travel to Province, France and Geneva, Switzerland (2010-2011), Turin, Italy (2011) Lyon and Paris, France (2011), and Asia (2011-2012). The purpose is to connect artists and encourage new beginnings.

About the Artist
Montri Toemsombat was born in 1975 in Chaiyaphum Province. He studied visual arts, specializing in Inter-media Arts at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chulalongkorn University. He graduated in 1998. His debut artworks often use natural materials, such as rice and silk as the key components. A young rising artist, his extensive portfolio covers sculptures, installation arts, photographs, improvised arts and videos. His nationally and internationally exhibited works are widely acclaimed for their creativity and distinctiveness. His solo exhibitions include: Cocoon; the Renaissance (Ayara Hall, the Jim Thompson House, 1991), Fake Me (The Japan Foundation Art Gallery, Bangkok, 2002), New Fashion Order; Dissolution (Installation/ Performance, RMIT Project Space, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, 2005), Rice/Life, Ever-Presence (RoomX, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland, 2006).

He has also been invited to join in several international exhibitions, namely: "The 1st Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale", Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in 1999; “L’Art Dans Le Monde”, Paris, France; “Biennale Internationale Design 2000”, France, 2000; "The 1st Tirana Biennale", Tirana National Musuem, Albania; the 5th Art Workshop with Khoj Workshop, Modinagar, New Delhi, India, 2001; "Under Construction; The New Dimension of Asian Art", the Japan Foundation Art Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 2002; “Dreams and Conflicts", Thai Pavilion, 50th International Art Exhibition Venice Biennale / Venice, Italy, 2003; ARS 06, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland, 2006; Soka Contemporary Arts, Taipei, Taiwan, Busan Biennale 2008, Busan, South Korea; Jakarta Biennale 2009, Jakarta, Indonesia; and Basel, Switzerland, 2009.

Montri is a recipient of various artist residency and research scholarships, and international awards, such as Young Fashion Designer Award, Bangkok International Fashion, 1999, Japan Foundation Fellowship Program, Japan Foundation (Affiliated with Fukuoka Asian Art Museum) Fukuoka, 2000, Artist in Residence at La Cite des Arts, Paris, 2007, the James H.W. Thompson Foundation Research Grant, Bangkok, 2008. Today Montri lives and works in Bangkok and Kanchanaburi.

About the Guest Artists

Santiphap Ingong-ngam
Santiphap was born in Lamphun Province in 1973. A self-taught artist, he acquired film-making skills during his studies. He is a renowned independent film maker. His famous works include the experimental documentary, “Woman Warrior Tale” (2000 / 38 minutes / experimental documentary), which is part of the artist residency project in Indonesia“Crazed Dog (3)” (2001 / 13 minutes). The film incorporates a mathematic problem as its frame concept. The other work, “Monks & Me” (2003 / 7 minutes) is the product of a filmmaking workshop carried out with fourteen monks. A new language for the mainstream movie industry has been created by “Just a Second; The Khong Legend, 2003” through the unconventional presentation of eastern mentality. It portrays self-unification and transformation in response to the events happening along that Khong River. Currently, Santiphap lives and works in Chiang Mai Province.

Kornkrit Jianpinidnan
Kornkrit Jianpinidnan graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University in 1999. Since then, he has been pursuing his passion of photography. His first solo exhibition “Neo Romantic” pinned his name as one of the most attention-grabbing young photographers. The exhibition reflected the confusion and despair of the people of his generation in the era of overflow communications and social networking media in 1990s. His early works manifested the influence of a spontaneous and dynamic atmosphere that integrated snapshot aesthetic elements making his works a uniquely enticing narration.

Jarunun Phantachat
Jarunun Phantachat is the co-founder of B -Floor Theater (1999). She has also worked as an actress, playwright and director. Currently she holds the position of associate artistic director of Jarunan Group, with performances in Thailand, Singapore, the United States, France, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Cambodia, etc. She wrote the stage play scripts for Yam Plob, Purgatory, Suicide Buddy and other amines. Her directorial work includes Nowhere Now Here, 2000, Khon Phan Suk, Yam Plob, Shatter Room No. 0, and Suicide Buddy. In 2008, she co-directed a play called “Semi-Happiness” with Nikorn Saetang. The show received the award “Most Socially Conscious Play” from the Bangkok Theater Network in the same year. She recently directed “My Beloved Absurd Country” for the pantomime group called Babymime.  

Education Programs

“Breaking out of the Cocoon, Growing out of Rice”

Artist Walk
Date: 29 July 2010
Time: 4.00-5.00 pm
Venue: Exhibition Room, Jim Thompson Art Center
Activity fee: Free

Discussion: Arts under the Declaration of Emergency Situation
Date: 10 August 2010
Time: 4.00-5.00 pm
Speakers: Thanom Chapakdi, Montri Toemsombat, Worathep Akkrabootara, Disorn Duangdao and Aphiwat Saengphatthaseema
Moderator: Gridthiya Gaweewong
Venue: William Warren Library
Activity fee: Free
Join the curators, critics, artists and authors in the discussion session relating to the effects of the enforced Emergency Decree on the art industry in Thailand.

Workshop: Art from Reused Materials
Date: 28 August 2010
Time: 1.00-5.00 pm
Leader: Montri Toemsombat
Venue: William Warren Library
Activity fee: Baht 500 per person
The artist Montri Toemsombat, whose artworks are exhibited in “Breaking Out of the Cocoon, Growing out of Rice” will share with the workshop participants his creative ideas in crafting art from various kinds of reusable materials from the Jim Thompson Factory.

Workshop: Book Binding By Hand
Date: 11 September 2010
Time1.00-5.00 pm
Leader: Taipida Moodhitaporn
Venue: William Warren Library
Activity fee: To be announced

Lecture: Traveling Towards Spiritual Findings and Meanings in Life
Date: 18 September 2010
Time: 2.00-4.00 pm
Lecturers: Pramual Pengchan and Suddaen Wisudhiluck
Venue: William Warren Library
Activity fee: Free
Traveling not only offers experiences but also constructs the path to the mind. The destination, time, occasion, motivation and style may differ, but nonetheless travelers become explorers and observers when they travel. They question and seek spiritual answers to their existence as well as the meanings of life.

For more information, please contact the Jim Thompson Art Center at +662 612 6741 or artcenter@jimthompsonhouse.com.