Jiab Prachakul

Jiab Prachakul: 14 Years

February 1 - April 30, 2021 at Friends Indeed Gallery, San Francisco

Friends Indeed Gallery is pleased to present the first U.S. solo exhibition for Thai-artist Jiab Prachakul. Prachakul was born in Nakhon Phanom, a small town on the Mekong River in northeast Thailand. She studied filmography at Thammasat Univer- sity before working as a casting director at a Bangkok production company. In 2006, she relocated to London and became inspired to paint after seeing a David Hockney retrospective. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Berlin. In a city known for its bohemian community of artists, Prachakul continued to pursue an entirely self-taught practice, making portraits of her flock of friends, many of whom were involved with fashion, film, and the visual arts.

For her show with Friends Indeed, Prachakul presents a significant new body of work exploring the nuances of Asian diasporic representation through a series of intimate portraits. The artist says:

our identity is given to us the moment we are born, but as we grow up it becomes a reflection of our choices: the books we read, the films we watch, the clothes we wear, the places we live, the foods we eat, and the people we spend our time with. These choices unfold themselves and are engraved, without us even realizing, in our physical gestures, our personal styles, and the look that comes from deep within our eyes

A keen observer, Prachakul approaches the complexity of identity and authenticity through the genre of figurative painting. Pop cultural depictions of Asian Americans are historically monotropic —often casting characters in secondary roles as perpetual foreigners, villainous adversaries, or meek members of the model minority. In contrast, Prachakul’s subjects are always leading figures, manifesting a vast range of personalities and emotional reg- isters. An exuberant young girl in costume. A stylish couple with cool remov- al. A mired and moody youth. Her story-driven subjects play a social and psychological role, reimagining the traditional framework of portraiture as a space to rewrite staid narratives and representational tropes. Sometimes a single figure is presented humbly against an abstract field of color and other times, they are surrounded by the intricacies of a dense, domestic backdrop. In each interpretation, Prachakul’s colorful and dynamic compositions dis- play a delicate attention to detail. Her paintings convey both an immediacy and depth that cast her subjects in a humanizing and intimate light rather than perpetuate their status as Other. There is a general sense of culture, taste, and intellect —a refined internationalism not typically displayed in American genres.

An accompanying exhibition catalogue will feature an essay by Xiaoyu Weng, Associate Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, New York and cura- tor of the 5th Ural Biennale for Contemporary Art, and an interview between the Artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

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A delicate portrait of friends interacting in a Berlin bar by a self-taught artist has won the 2020 BP portrait award at The National Portrait Gallery London.

Jiab Prachakul's Night Talk was picked as the winner by the judging panel, which, for the first time since 1997, had no representative from BP on it.

Selected from 1,981 entries, representing 69 countries, Prachakul's portrait was called "an evocative portrait of a fleeting moment in time", which gives a glimpse into someone else's life that is "beautiful, mysterious and alive". The judges also praised its bold composition and clever use of contrasting shapes. (source, The Guardian)

The exhibition can be viewed online here.

Read more about Jiab and Night Talk.

Numéro Magazine by Emma Naroumbo Armaing.

Independent.ie by Niall Macmonagle.

Candid Orange Magazin by Amy Cartledge.

BBC by Wil Gompertz.

The Guardian by Lanre Bakare

Get Night Talk Limited poster Signed and numbered by Jiab Prachakul here.