Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Agus Suwage, Pinaree Santipak and Po Po in SEA: Contemporary Southeast Asia Art

16 Jun 2022

The publication conveys crucial themes of interest, such as community engagement and organization, social and political commentary, gender and identity, environment and ecology, and material traditions and processes. Selected by an international curatorial committee, it showcases the top 60 Southeast Asia Artists and their artistic practices.

Pinaree Sanpitak (b. 1961, Thailand) has produced an expansive and compelling body of works while retaining a focus on the multiple meanings and experiences connected to the human body. The Thai concept of rang-gai, the body as a compound of the physical and spiritual, anchors her work, although her transnational and regional frames of reference resist the notion of her works deemed as “Thai”. Santipak’s multidisciplinary and fluid approach has shaped her nuanced practice of social art grounded in community-building, consistently in conversation with her personal lived experiences and involvement in global and regional feminist art discourse. Breast Works (1994), her most acclaimed series of work, shows an abundant, almost manic attention to a simple form— a production of mound-like sculptural breast forms. Her early series laid the groundwork for the artist’s consistent engagement with this form as both literal and metaphorical—an exploration of lines that resembles the architecture of the Buddhist stupa, and when inverted, resemble vessels used for cooking and eating.

Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizans’ (b. 1965 and 1962) practice takes inspiration from their experiences of migration and travel and their attendant conditions of displacement and resettlement. Through assemblage and collaborative strategies, the Aquilizans interrogate the bases of identity and the logic of belonging. The balikbayan box has become a fundamental aspect of their practice, cardboard boxes carrying objects of history and memory, inscriptions of social biographies that speak to the contemporary conditions and burdens of displacement and belonging. Project Be-longing (1997–2007), Project Another Country (2008) and In-Habit: Project Another Country (2012) showcase the mundane materials that were convened and transformed into poetic articulations of community.

Po Po (b. 1957, Pathein) moved to Yangon in the late 1970s and has since created a diverse body of work, including sculptures, paintings, installations and performances drawing from mythological figures, Buddhist philosophy and sociopolitical commentary. Following his representation by Yavuz Gallery in Singapore, he has yielded two solo shows: Out of Myth, OntoLogical (2015) and Primeval Codes (2020). These shows have cemented his spare, abstract language as an influential and idiosyncratic presence in both Burmese and global contemporary conversations on minimalism and spiritualism.

Agus Suwage (b. 1959, Java) obtained his MFA in graphic design from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in 1986. Suwage is a veteran in the art world, an artist known for his self-representations that probes questions about Indonesian society, culture, and religion with sharp yet subtle irony and satire in various mediums like paintings, watercolours, sculptures, and installations. His work often relates multiple forms of identity to social and human behaviour and the fallacy of politics.

SEA: Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia will be officially launched on 18 June 2022 at the upcoming edition of documenta in Kassel, Germany.