Pinaree Sanpitak’s focus on the breast form may seem provocative to some audiences. But the Thai artist’s thoughtful evocations of the female body, whether in metal, fabric, ceramic or glass, are meant to kindle admiration, not shock, and have earned her renown and solo exhibitions in galleries and museums from Singapore to Los Angeles.
This fall the artist will visit the Toledo Museum of Art where two of her installations will be on display—one in Canaday Gallery, another on the grounds of the Glass Pavilion. She will discuss her work and influences during a free presentation at 3 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Glass Pavilion.
“Pinaree’s point of view is fascinating and one that is relevant to art audiences internationally,” said Museum Director Brian Kennedy. “We’re delighted to showcase this groundbreaking artist as she explores glass in two different parts of the Museum campus, and gives our visitors an opportunity to engage with her.”
Sanpitak’s involvement with the Museum began last spring, when she visited TMA to meet with its glass artists and discuss her role as a Guest Artist Pavilion Project (GAPP) resident. The GAPP program invites artists from around the world to create new work in glass; Sanpitak’s installation will be a larger-than-life, transparent glass sculpture that will be on display starting in November and continuing through November of next year. The as-yet-untitled sculpture is a play on a theme Sanpitak recently explored through her work Hanging by a Thread, which examined the aftermath of the 2011 flooding crisis in her native Thailand by creating hammocks from a traditional type of Thai textile that was distributed as part of relief efforts.
The second installation is part of InSight: Contemporary Sensory Works, an exhibition that also features the works of Aminah Robinson of the United States and Magdalene Odundo of Kenya. That exhibition opens Nov. 5 and continues through Jan. 4, 2015.
Sanpitak’s contribution, Anything Can Break, is a ceiling installation and will be located in a portion of Canaday Gallery. The work is made up of a steel superstructure and mesh from which origami boxes (named ‘flying cubes’) and glass shapes (reminiscent of breast shapes and called ‘clouds’) hang. The sculptural work is embedded with fiber optics and speakers linked to sensors. As people move around the space underneath the installation, their location will trigger various pre-recorded sounds. Anything Can Break was recently shown at the 2012 Biennale of Sydney.
About the Artist
Born in 1961 in Bangkok, Sanpitak discovered her affinity for art as a high school exchange student in the United States. “My credits in science and math from school in Thailand were sufficient for American high school, so I was able to take elective courses like photography and drawing,” she said. She went on to earn a fine art degree in Japan and returned to her native Thailand to begin showing her work at fledgling gallery spaces in the country’s capital. The explorations of the human body so present in her work today began in the 1990s, partly inspired, she said, by her parents’ careers as physicians and her upbringing on a medical school campus. Since then, her work has been displayed in museums and galleries in the United States, Europe and Asia.
“My work is about perception,” Sanpitak said. “It’s about how you look at things. I just hope viewers are able to expand their perceptions, change their attitudes and have a better relationship with other people or with the environment, or a better understanding of themselves.”