Widely known for her 'breast stupa' motif, Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak is equally known for her fluid transitions between ideas and mediums, constantly building on prior works and concepts. The critically recognised conceptual artist is often categorised as a feminist artist who focuses on the female self and motherhood, but while much of Sanpitak's practice explores womanhood and the female body, her work is largely an exploration of the human form and humanity, seeing the body as a site of experience and impressions. Her works (sculpture, painting, drawing, installation, ceramic, printmaking, photography, performance) often delve into the affectual relationships between humans and draw on themes of fertility and comfort.Read More
Sanpitak's breast stupa motif refers to the variety of Buddhist shrine known as a stupa, drawing comparisons between it and the breast. The motif is presented in various diverse configurations in her 2019 solo presentation Fragmented Bodies: The Personal and The Public at STPI in Singapore, being directly referenced in works such as the 'Breast Vessel' etching series and variously printed works such as Breast Talks 8 (2018), Breast Works III–2 (2018), and Breast Clouds I–4 (2018). Within the various media and styles of works, that the breast is depicted as a vessel able to be held remains constant throughout. Breast Talks 8 (2018) presents four iterations in various colours, forms, and textures that draw parallels and connections to other works, as well as emphasising the diverse arrangement within the work itself. The breast stupa here is in dialogue with its various forms both literally and metaphorically. There is a visceral element heightened by the various textures.
In her installation Anything Can Break (2011), Sanpitak creates delicate origami cubes and breast-like 'clouds' that hang from the ceiling, a dense layer that responds with musical sound to the movements of onlookers below. Debuting at the 18th Biennale of Sydney, this installation and sound art piece showcased sensory experience and challenged normative views of perception. While not classified directly as performance, Sanpitak has also engaged in community- and collaboration-focused projects such as 'Breast Stupa Cookery' (2005–ongoing), which consists of meals prepared by chefs using or inspired by breast stupa-shaped cooking moulds made from cast aluminium and glass, amongst other materials. The food that is created is then identified as the artwork, offering a much more collaborative and sensual experience of Sanpitak's work that is more in dialogue with the female body. Rather than detached in the manner of conventional sculpture, the act of consuming (as well as preparing) the food offers a sort of connectivity or point of relation.
Sanpitak received her initial tertiary education at the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan (1986). In addition to being included in various international collections, her works have been shown at institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, and The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo. She has participated in various biennales including the Jakarta Biennale, the Busan Biennale, the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, and the Setouchi Triennale. She received the Silpathorn Award for visual arts from the Thai Ministry of Culture in 2007.
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