London-based Thai contemporary artist James Prapaithong explores memory, place, and narrative through ethereal paintings that evoke the fleeting qualities of phone snapshots, or the nostalgia of film.Read More
Born in Bangkok, Prapaithong graduated with a BA (Honours) in Painting from Wimbledon College of Arts, London in 2019. He is completing his MA in Painting at London's Royal College of Art, which he is due to finish in 2022.
Working predominantly in oil on canvas, Prapaithong paints dream-like, photoreal images that offer glimpses into moments of everyday life as seen by the artist through photographs—either his own, taken by friends, or accessed through Instagram.
His paintings often possess a candid, snapshot quality, depicting landscapes, scenes of water, or cropped vistas. Swim (2021) situates the viewer on a bank shaded by trees, overlooking the sea, while in The Moon is Beautiful, Isn't it? (2021), we peer through bare branches to catch a glimpse of the moon amidst the twilight sky.
Prapaithong's distinctive blurred aesthetic is achieved through aggressively scrubbing the paint into canvas, which is primed with rabbit-skin glue. Layers of oil wash achieve a flatness, and light is painted in thick white to create a glowing, diffuse effect.
The filmic quality of Prapaithong's works is in part a result of the artist's choice of scale—using common screen aspect ratios to inform the dimensions of his canvases. In conjunction with their subject, these paintings can be seen to operate as 'freeze frames' or cinematic stills. Across the Sea (2021) might be an establishing shot—presenting the golden full moon illuminating clouds, suspended above the sea and distant horizon. Summer Blue(s) (2021) presents a close up of gently rippling water which sparkles under the sunlight.
Prapaithong cites the Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu as an influence, telling Ocula Advisory in 2021: 'He introduced the "pillow shot"—still life frames that would intercept scenes. His films cut to an image of a vase for a few seconds while two people are talking to each other, for example. I think it's similar to how the moon paintings work.'
Emerging from the artist's experience of the Covid-19 pandemic and limitations on travel, Prapaithong's first solo exhibition, at Workplace in London, entitled A Year Ago Today (2021), presented a significant collection of the artist's photo-reference paintings. In Look How They Shine (2021), we gaze up at the night sky, partly obscured by the cover of trees. In Afterglow (2021), the diffuse moonlight is visible through heavy clouds, a power line intersecting horizontally across the composition.
With scale ranging from intimate vistas to large canvases, Prapaithong's works together operate as a punctuated series of flashbacks—transporting the viewer through familiar, universally identifable scenes in a wistful expression of looking back on memories from a position of stasis and isolation.
James Prapaithong presented his first solo exhibition, A Year Ago Today, at Workplace in London in 2021.
Group exhibitions include This is Water, Workplace, London (2021); Still @live, MAPA Fine Art, London (2021); To My Twenties, The Auction Collective, London (2020); The Weird and the Eerie, Hockney Gallery, London (2020); Xhibit 2019, The Koppel Project Central, London (2019); For Love or Money, Copeland Gallery, London (2019); and Faces and Places, 5th Base Gallery, London (2017).
Prapaithong was shortlisted for the Clyde & Co Art Award in 2019. He was longlisted for the Jackson's Open Painting Prize in the same year.
James Prapaithong's website can be found here.
Misong Kim | Ocula | 2021
The Royal College of Art's graduate painting exhibition brings together works by a group of extremely talented artists.Read More Advisory Perspective In the Studio with James Prapaithong 2 November 2021
Emerging artist James Prapaithong introduces the themes and techniques behind his most recent series of paintings.Read More