An artist’s work is very often the product of inner contemplation and meditative ritual. This concept, specifically when applied to abstraction, is profound, relying on the focused attempt to move beyond conditioned thinking into deeper states of awareness. This ‘movement’ – or journey, rather – is key, as an artist’s process is by and large a quest to manifest memory. But what does that path, which is above all a private one, look like? What happens when artists follow those trails of thought? Where do they bring us and what, if anything, should we expect to see at the end?
These questions are prompted by Somyot Hananuntasuk in his latest solo exhibition, Intangible Journeys, at Affinity Art Gallery. Having spent the last 40 years in Munich, Germany, the Thai artist has found himself at a moment of pause, lending his solo exhibition an air of intensely-personal introspection. Like a photograph captures a singular event, each of Hananuntasuk’s canvases capture a moment of inner reflection. Here they are strung together so that we may read the artist’s oeuvre as a thorough, albeit elusive, timeline of experience.
Central to Hananuntasuk’s work is the instinct-driven process of creation itself: it is critical that one’s senses take the reins while premeditated form, objective and calculated intent are absent from the scene. He strives to capture that which is ‘unseen’, stating, “every time I work it’s like a new journey and the destination is unknown. My senses and my experiences serve me as my guide.” Here the ‘unseen’ does not equal the ‘abstract’; rather, the unseen – the undetected or the obscured – has “everything to do with openness” and one’s commitment to capturing spontaneous sensation. Hananuntasuk has long suggested that artists dwell within their own worlds, acting as archaeologists who must excavate layers of lived sensation. Intangible Journeys offers a study of the artist’s subterranean, or rather sub-cerebral, explorations, each canvas bearing the instinctive insignia of a lived moment or emotion
Ranging in size, the paintings in Intangible Journeys can be energetic, analytical, spiritual or full of tenderness, very often revealing organic shapes and round, sensual impressions, perhaps referencing his earlier, hyper-realist depictions of human forms. Canvases with sweeping swaths of pigment are juxtaposed against hurried dashes of colour on a neighbouring wall, one born of lengthier pensive episodes whilst another mirrors a mere snippet of experience. Yet there persists a rhythmic give and take between them that allows viewers to piece together Hananuntasuk’s myriad musings, and further, to consider what form their own odysseys towards self-understanding might take.
While Hananuntasuk is not interested in spirituality as a social idea or abstraction as a historical category, he recognizes that these classifications share a real belief in the metaphysical and meditative properties of work, materials, process and practice, a kind of secular faith in the possibilities of non-objective image-making and world-building. Maintaining a daily meditation ritual and regular attendance at silent retreats, the artist’s passive, thoughtful nature is exemplified in each brushstroke. It becomes apparent that his desire is not for transcendence through abstraction, but for a greater embeddedness in the world – a deeper understanding of his own memory and intuition through practice and process.
In this light, the work presented in Intangible Journeys abandons reason, giving way to something that has never before existed: the option to systematically pursue a track leading to abstraction, a track implicit, be it said, in its very indeterminism. Hananuntasuk reminds us, “if the journey is interrupted, I simply make a new path and a new plan. I adjust anything and everything until I reach the final destination. In the end, what people experience from my paintings is the journey itself”.
Born in 1949, Somyot Hananuntasuk studied fine art at Bangkok’s Silpakorn University before attending Munich’s Kunstakademie on an exchange scholarship. He furthered his studies in the faculty of painting and sculpture at Koenigliche Kunstakademie in Copenhagen, prompting a series of international exhibitions early in his career. Hananuntasuk’s works are included in notable public collections such as the Schmidtbank in Nuremberg and Museum Würth in Künzelsau, Germany. He now lives and works between Munich and Bangkok.
Hananuntasuk的作品核心是本能驅動的創造過程：當刻意的形式和意圖都不存在時，官感才是最重要的。他努力抓住那些「看不見」的東西，並道：「每次創作對我來說都像是一次新的旅程，而旅程的目的地是未知的。能引導我完成旅程的是我的感官和經歷。」在此，「看不見」並不等於「抽象」；更確切地說，「看不見」 ——未被發現的或模糊的——是「開放性的問題」以及一個人對捕捉感覺的承諾。 Hananuntasuk一直以來常建議藝術家們在他們自己的世界中充當考古學家的角色，挖掘出生活中層層的感受。《感知逆旅》的作品一一展現藝術家的深層探索，讓觀者窺探每個獨特的時刻和感情。
Somyot Hananuntasuk出生於1949年，曾在曼谷Silpakorn大學學習美術，並獲得獎學金到慕尼黑藝術學院做交換生。之後他在哥本哈根Koenigliche Kunstakademie的繪畫和雕塑系進修，並在他的藝術生涯早期促成了一系列的國際展覽。 Hananuntasuk的作品被收錄在著名的公共收藏中，如紐倫堡的Schmidtbank和德國Künzelsau的Würth博物館。他現於慕尼黑和曼谷兩個城市之間居住和工作。