Friends Indeed Gallery is pleased to present the first U.S. solo exhibition for Thai-artist Jiab Prachakul at Four One Nine in San Francisco's SoMA district.
Prachakul was born in Nakhon Phanom, a small town on the Mekong River in northeast Thailand. She studied filmography at Thammasat University before working as a casting director at a Bangkok production company. In 2006, she relocated to London and became inspired to paint after seeing a David Hockney retrospective. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Berlin. In a city known for its bohemian community of artists, Prachakul continued to pursue an entirely self-taught practice, making portraits of her flock of friends, many of whom were involved with fashion, film, and the visual arts.
For her show with Friends Indeed at Four One Nine, Prachakul presents a significant new body of work exploring the nuances of Asian diasporic representation through a series of intimate portraits. The artist says:
Our identity is given to us the moment we are born, but as we grow up it becomes a reflection of our choices: the books we read, the films we watch, the clothes we wear, the places we live, the foods we eat, and the people we spend our time with. These choices unfold themselves and are engraved, without us even realizing, in our physical gestures, our personal styles, and the look that comes from deep within our eyes.
A keen observer, Prachakul approaches the complexity of identity and authenticity through the genre of figurative painting. Pop cultural depictions of Asian Americans are historically monotropic—often casting characters in secondary roles as perpetual foreigners, villainous adversaries, or meek members of the model minority. In contrast, Prachakul’s subjects are always leading figures, manifesting a vast range of personalities and emotional registers. An exuberant young girl in costume. A stylish couple with cool removal. A mired and moody youth. Her story-driven subjects play a social and psychological role, reimagining the traditional framework of portraiture as a space to rewrite staid narratives and representational tropes. Sometimes a single figure is presented humbly against an abstract field of color and other times, they are surrounded by the intricacies of a dense, domestic backdrop. In each interpretation, Prachakul’s colorful and dynamic compositions display a delicate attention to detail. Her paintings convey both an immediacy and depth that cast her subjects in a humanizing and intimate light rather than perpetuate their status as Other. There is a general sense of culture, taste, and intellect—a refined internationalism not typically displayed in American genres.
An accompanying exhibition catalogue will feature an essay by Xiaoyu Weng, Associate Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, New York and curator of the 5th Ural Biennale for Contemporary Art, and an interview between the Artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.