Hold Me Tight
solo exhibition by Yuree Kensaku
curated by Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani
29 November - 23 December 2012
"Hold Me Tight" presents a compelling body of work by young Thai-Japanese artist Yuree Kensaku. This is her first solo exhibition in Singapore.
While informed by social issues, everyday imagery, and childhood memories, the collage works and prints in "Hold Me Tight" retain a surrealistic quality that seems both familiar and obscure at once.
Beneath her signature candy hues and pop images lies a world of uncertainty and insecurity that reflects the artist’s deeper desire for comfort and reassurance. Cartoonish in style, Yuree’s works are inhabited by fantastical creatures, scaled toys, life and death innuendos and, above all, the artist’s own reflection caught in the act of looking through the curtains of memory.
Emerging Contemporary Thai Artists: Yuree Kensaku
By Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani
Yuree Kensaku (b. 1979) is a young Thai art practitioner emerging from the local art scene in recent years. Pertaining to the generation of artists born in the 1970s and 80s, Kensaku and her contemporaries have started developing a variety of visual interests and methodologies through which they articulate their artistic inclinations at the onset of the twenty-first century.
While broadly framing Thai art practice in the light of the cultural, social and economic changes that have occurred in recent history—from the tumultuous years of the 1970s, the rise of neo-traditional and nationalist art in the 80s, to the socially engaged art of the 90s—the language adopted in the last decade by the young art practitioners seems to often reinterpret or depart from the lesson of the senior generation of the 60s.
If faith and spirituality as a whole remains one of the most recurrent visual themes, politics seems to be replaced by history, in that political events are revisited and reinterpreted by the younger practitioners under the guise of political commentaries versus the political activism typical of their seniors. On the other hand, concern for universally shared ‘social issues’ expressed in the form of social dislocation, identity and search for the self is where the emerging players are focusing their artistic emphasis.
Kensaku’s work and continuous practice reasonably fall into the latter category. While informed by social issues, everyday imagery and childhood memories, her works retain a prominent surrealistic quality that generates a visual narrative familiar and obscure at once. For her light-hearted imagery allows the artist to portray absurd creatures and sensational compositions while getting away with the critical human issues they uncover.
Throughout her career Yuree Kensaku has experimented with a variety of mediums, including painting, mixed media installation, graffiti and collage on canvas, which are at their best in her recent ‘curtain’ series featured in Hold Me Tight.
Like colorful and rich Renaissance tapestries, her works recount social and personal tales. Much as the renaissance knights had recalled their gestures in the battlefield, she recalls personal events, family and social relations, her past, often seen with melancholic eyes, and her future, often seen with incertitude.
Big, colorful tapestries, albeit not finely woven with golden thread as in the Renaissance period but executed with contemporary techniques such as acrylic and found objects, serve to decorate and substantiate the threads of her narrative.
Simply put, Kensaku’s works enable the artist to understand where she comes from, to see where she is going.
Where then lies the engagement with the audience? Purposely, she chooses to give little information to the audience on the theme of her works. The titles are often fantastical and/or literally related to the story she tells. Yet her stories become the viewers’ own stories.
By adopting scaled objects, fantastical creatures and figurines, scattered apparently randomly on the canvas, Yuree Kensaku taps on universal issues closer to all. The search and trust in the other, lover or partner, for once is the core concept of Bomb Garden where the artist features Adam and Eve—reinterpreted in her own imagery. Eve is handing to Adam a bomb, instead of an apple, a symbol of incipient disaster when trust and respect for each other is misplaced. Instead of fruits on the trees there are bombs. Cute and childlike in form but threatening in spirit, these miniature glossy gadgets tell of social distrust and gender inequality regardless of skin color and national belonging.
The “stage” set-up in Complicated Mountain also alludes to the hierarchical nature of social relationships, restrained by conventional ties, graphically represented in the work as the untied, loose ends of a fearsome rope. In the foreground insidious snakes suggest imminent danger, while a small, vulnerable figure (perhaps the artist) is imploring attention and solace.
Beneath her signature candy hues and pop images lies a world of uncertainty and insecurity, which reflects the artist’s deeper desire for comfort and reassurance. Cartoonish in style, Kensaku’s works are inhabited by fantastical creatures, life and death innuendos and, above all, the artist’s own reflection—caught in the act of looking through the curtains of memory.
Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani is an independent curator and art writer for several universities’ journals, art magazines and symposium publications. Her academic and curatorial focus is contemporary art in Thailand
- Yuree Kensaku