CONVERSATION: WHEN THE PRESIDENT OF THE
COMPANY IS THE ACTUAL PARASITE
A conversation with Pare Patcharapa and her Poetry of Death exhibition
By Jirat Prasertsup
BOT 29 Nov. 2021
Poetry of Death is the name of the first solo exhibition of Pare, Patcharapa Inchang, the artist behind one of the political drawing that went viral –and later was deleted by Facebook. (A picture of people hanging themselves under the sky train track and above a convenience store.)
Living in Chiangmai and working as a graphic designer and yoga teacher, Pare told us she has never done art, as in fine art before. What she has done was using Procreate to digital-paint before posting it on a Facebook group called ‘illustrators for Democracy’, hoping to highlight the political situation in Thailand and demand real democracy that centers around the people. At the end, Mitre Jai-in saw something in her work and later invited her to set up her exhibition at Cartel Artspace.
“I named this exhibition ‘Poetry of Dead’ because the main subject of my work is ghosts. I’m interested in ghosts since it’s what grown-ups always use to scare the kids. The fear gives power to the ghosts and makes it something we are afraid to talk about, let alone question it. The other power structure that makes people feel this way is similar to the idea of ghosts” Pare explained the name of the exhibition.
The date of opening is actually Friday, November 27th, but Pare has been working to install the work and paint a large oil painting on the wall, inviting people to see the process. The way that Pare sees it, locking herself inside the gallery all day and night is also a work of art.
BOTS WORLD is one of the visitors who visited before the actual opening date and this is our conversation regarding ghosts in Pare’s art. Ghosts, once believed to be as great and powerful as the king, are in fact no more than parasites, taking up the country’s resources as long and as much as they please.
You mentioned that the process of oil painting in the gallery is part of this exhibition, can you tell us more about that idea?
I have to preface this with the theme of this exhibition. As I mentioned, the main theme is the ghost as the result of the senseless, inexplicable power. The idea of doing a performative painting comes from Mr. Mitre (Mr.Mitre Jai-in), who wanted the artist to live in the gallery and at the same time create a piece of work –while being locked up in a box-like room without any window. It’s the situation many political activists are facing, being locked up in prisons just because they are brave enough to question the fear they’ve been taught about.
Can you tell us why the biggest piece is a painting of a sleeping child?
The work is not finished yet, it’s actually a painting of a ghost –a ghost that lives under the bed. I used to imagine one when I was young and had a bed with 4 legs and empty space underneath. I was always scared that there's something underneath. I see this painting as part of my ingrained fear since childhood– like the similar ingrained fear Thai people are taught. This is the biggest painting I’ve ever done (6.5x3.05 meters).
Apart from the painting on the wall, you have 5 more pieces of work. We’ve seen them on the Facebook group called “Illustrator for Democracy”, are these the originals that you posted?
Not at all, they’re newly painted, I redid some of them from the digital version. To clarify, my background is graphic design which I’ve been doing for over 10 years until this year that I found a political space I have the skills for. So, for the past years, I’ve been joining the protests and then digital-painting at home and posting them on the Facebook group. Most of them are drawn on my computer. When Mr. Mitre saw them, he invited me to showcase my work here so people in the offline world can see them as well. Because of that, I thought I should try oil painting, so I took an online course to redo all of the paintings for this exhibition.
So you took a course for this?
That’s right, to study the skills. There were already many art classes online so I just needed to pick one. I remembered I was randomly choosing and ended up choosing oil painting on wood, so this exhibition is oil painting on wood.
How long did the course take?
It’s about 2 months, and I was hesitant for about 3-4 months after Mr. Mit Jai In initially invited me.
I remember you were known from the Facebook group from the picture of people hanging
themselves. Was that the first painting?
I’d been drawing before that, but that was the first one I posted publicly –probably around June. After a couple minutes someone reported it.
And you were banned as well? Can you tell us more about that?
Somebody reported it. I remembered that was when the Covid situation was at its worst, people didn’t die just from Covid but they were committing suicide because of the economy. It was about the same time there was news about the vaccines monopoly by the government, backed up by one of the country’s biggest capitalists. The drawing was being shared for a while before someone disagreed with it, and reported it. He took a screenshot of it and made another post that the drawing makes the situation worse. He was in the same group, too. But anyway, there were people who thought otherwise so they continued to share it.
After the hanging drawing, there was a drawing of ghosts feasting on the table?
That was the beginning of July. I drew it seeing the image of the cabinet having a party on the beach in Phuket, the time when the number of Covid cases reached a new high everyday. But no matter how much we cursed them, the powerful people didn’t seem to care, let alone take responsibility for what they did. That image went viral as many people shared it. I made them a bunch of hungry ghosts feasting on the offering because I wanted to make these powerful people the lowest of beings. Because they exploit people. And I also wanted to encourage the protestors, by painting the cabinet as an abomination, not some powerful oppressors.
And the third piece of your work is a painting of a soldier with his head down to the ground, so it’s safe to say that you drew these in response to political memes.
You can say it’s an expressionist work that is in response to the situation of the half past year. The painting of the soldier, for example, comes from a news that a military man proposed to his nurse girlfriend. It tells us a lot about the stupid mindset towards the most influential profession in our country. I think it’s disgusting that this is what they are proud of –so I painted these and connected them together like a scaffolder. I don’t think they will ever see whatever perspectives other than theirs..
Or there’s the other 2 that I painted them as a two-piece and displayed them overlapping like this. It is called ‘Dad and Son’ to mock the picture behind the constitution court. There’s a painting of the tree at the red gate from the October 6th massacre and another one is the arch that was burned.
So to be frank, your work is a direct reflection of Thai politics. What would you say if the opposite side accused you that these are not art, but just a political tool?
I would have to ask them to look back at Thailand’s art for the last 60 years. They have been painting the same group of people over and over, portraying them in a one-sided perspective about how great and wonderful they are. However, I made it clear before that my work is allied with the movement calling for political freedom.
A ghost revolution, you might say?
Depending how you see it, it could be the same way the Constitutional Court sees it.
Photo by Preecha Pattara