19 Sep ‑ 8 Nov 2019 (every Tue to Fri) 12:30 ‑ 7pm (6 hours 30 minutes)
21 Sep ‑ 9 Nov 2019 (every Sat) noon ‑ 5pm (5 hours)
1/F, 1 Queen's Road West, Sheung Wan
contributed by

Just waking from a dream, in a room blanketed with soft light, everything is silent. Yet while treading through this dreamlike, illusory realm, a series of objects slowly begin to take shape; a diffused glow from the nearby window carves out a vase, a bowl, a table set for two.

This serene setting has been created by Thai artist Praween Piangchoompu, who inhabits Affinity Art this autumn with a solo exhibition titled, Resilience. Displaying a series of woodcut prints, the artist offers viewers a glimpse of his subconscious – what he calls his ‘sanctuary’ – where both memory and sentiment are visualised. In contrast to traditional woodcut printing, where lines and shapes are boldly and sharply defined, Praween’s prints are uniquely ethereal.

Presenting twenty-four works, the prints in this exhibition are not praised for their strong subject matter or narrative substance, but rather their remarkable subtlety.

The scenes and objects depicted momentarily root the viewer in a familiar interior. One sees everyday objects like a dish, a chair, a desk, but they are just out of reach, barely recognizable against their soft backgrounds. Inside the Soul No. 5, for example, depicts a small, puffy pillow propped up against a larger, faded one. Hardly visible against the pastel background, their softness invite viewers to nestle within them. Similarly, in Sanctuary Inside the Soul No. 29, two half-filled transparent glasses are set on a bare table, the glow from the nearby window casting their shadows in an otherwise empty scene. On closer inspection, the glasses oddly contain multiple layers of liquid. As the artist reflects:

"In my work, glasses represent bodies and water represents the mind. The different layers of water symbolise the different stages of consciousness in our mind."

While most entities in Piangchoompu's scenes are equally subtle, others are brought into the focal point using contrasting colours and well-defined edges. In Sanctuary Inside the Soul No. 26, a bright red bowl, another print cut from delicate rice paper, is glued atop the woodcut print using the technique of Chine-collé. This bold application adds an urgency to his work. By inserting such a bold pigment into the muted scenes shows an audacity that is otherwise undetectable. It is as if something has interrupted the artist’s meditative practice – a strong memory, perhaps – and fought its way to be the focus.

Still, despite these outbursts of colour, each piece is notably void of life. So quiet are Piangchoompu’s prints that one might miss the sole being in the exhibition: a pigeon perched in Middle of Nowhere No. 2. The work places the bird with its back to the viewers, watching as its companions fly freely outside. Of this the artist states:
“I want to talk about the median plane found between the inside and outside. It is a state that I see as strange. The pigeon symbolizes me, of course, and the universal connotation is freedom. I think everyone wants freedom, but at the same time, it is not always the answer. I choose to be in the middle, to find that perfect balance.”

To find this balance – be it between freedom and captivity, light and darkness or experience and dream – one must take their time and walk through realms uncertainty. Upon entering Resilience, viewers are cradled in the luminosity emanating from each of Piangchoompu’s work. It is like opening a window for the first time after a long storm. The bright light can be unsettling, but one thing is certain: one will always find a sense of calm after the tempest clears. It is in this state, Praween suggests, where the mind is most resilient.

Praween Piangchoompu (b. 1989, Thailand) has exhibited locally and internationally, including at The National Art Museum of China, Beijing (2019); The International Biennial Print Exhibition, Taiwan (2016) and Kruangthai Art Awards Exhibition, Thailand (2015) amongst others. Piangchoompu is the recipient of prestigious awards presented by the International Print Biennial, Lodz, Poland (2016); the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (2016) ; the Tokyo International Mini Print Triennial (2015); the Guanlan Print Biennale, China (2015), 6th Indonesia International Triennale (2018), The Queen Sonja Print Award, Norway (2016) and recently the Gold Prize at the Ulsan International Print Biennale in South Korea (2019). He currently lives and works in Chiangmai, Thailand.