Lot 240
  • 240

Thavorn Ko - Udomvit

150,000 - 200,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Thavorn Ko - Udomvit
  • Life...Still Life No.2
  • Signed and dated 2003
  • Acrylic on canvas, wood, in 4 parts
  • Each: 100 by 120 cm.; 39 1/4 by 47 1/4 in., Overall: 100 by 240 cm.; 39 1/4 by 94 1/2 in. (2)
  • Table: 50.5 by 26.5 by 26.5 cm.; 19 3/4 by 10 1/4 by 10 1/4 in., Bowl: 12 by 53 by 42 cm.; 4 1/2 by 20 3/4 by 16 1/2 in. (2)


The work is in good condition overall, as are the canvases, which are clear and taut. There are indications of minor wear and handling to the edges of both canvases. There are no ostensible cracking or warping found on the wooden objects. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals no restoration. Unframed.
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Catalogue Note

Thavorn Ko-Udomvit is a Thai artist who has won international recognition as the curator of the Thai Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. His piece Life...Still Life No.2, created six years earlier, examines the possible impact of modernization on his country's society, while remaining an acute reflection that encompasses the larger societal realities, which have been gaining relevance across Southeast Asia in the recent decades.

The piece consists of a two-dimensional acrylic on canvas quasi-diptych paired with a three-dimensional object, a bowl propped up on a wooden table. This sheer pairing renders the piece unique.

Within the image is a grain of rice shining amidst the sombre background. Housed in a brown, beige and ochre colour scheme, the bowls dominate the canvas. However, it is ultimately the grain of rice that holds the attention, as if manifesting the expectations created by the physical presence of the three-dimensional object installed in front of it.

When creating this particular artwork, Thavorn was influenced by the teachings contained in the Lotus Sutra, a highly revered text in Mahayana Buddhism. In the text, the artist came across the concept of "delighted mind" and sought to articulate it within his work. He believes that as technology advanced, appreciation of awareness and morality could be jeopardized: "Delighted mind is a principle of Buddhism.  It might return again to Asia." The series Life...Still Life was created over a period of years, each work reflecting a different moment in the artist's life as he dealt with the practical relevance of his personal studies in Buddhism.

I have always asked myself if we are losing our feelings and thoughts of mind and spirit, because now we are living amidst technology that is very useful, and provides us with convenience," the artist explains. "Technology has occupied our society, and it seems that in the future a new generation will not know what mind and spirit are. The beauty that emerges out of people's imaginations is gradually disappearing. The tranquility and delight in our inner selves, which Asians consider a principle of life, is walking away from us."

Empty vessels waiting to be filled with water, the bowls are an extension of the mind. The grain of rice in them, symbolizes knowledge, as well as mental and physical growth – it is perceived to have a soul. In effect, within Thai culture rice is viewed as the key source of survival, as an essential part of the country's agrarian history and anthropology, reflected in the seasonal offerings to the rice goddess Mae Prosob.

The piece plays with these perceptions, perhaps elevating what are presumed cultural norms into an existential discourse on society's moral compass. "When the mind touches an object...it [appreciates] the value of the inanimate object. But if our mind cannot see the value, than the objects will leave no impression with us," Thavorn explains. "The beauty of existence consists of a mind that is full of love and kindness for [our environment]."

Initially an allegory on the tensions that polarize Thailand, the artwork is a universal commentary on both the community and the individual as they try to balance the possibilities of enlightenment and quotidian moral challenge.