Born in 1970, the Bangkok native received his formative training in the College of Fine Art at Silpakorn University, cultivating an enduring interest in classical art and the pictorial language of Western Renaissance painting. Featuring a meticulous chiaroscuro technique in the tradition of Caravaggio, while channeling a multiplicity of image connotations so characteristic of Holbein’s art, Utarit’s work transplants the aesthetic ideals of the past into a surreal, dark vision of the modern day.
As with the rest of the works within this series, this piece embodies the classical Western tradition of the still life, presenting a close-up perspective of the princess figurine and the umbrella upon a table - the sole points of interest on asparse, black background. The figurine of the girl provides the only accent of color on the canvas, with a dress in light pastel blue and vivid red hair, yet all this seems to be overshadowed by black and white. In particular, the umbrella is rendered in closely photorealistic detail, delineating each and every intricate fold and ruffle in the fabric. Utarit then places special focus on the interplay of light and shadow across the objects, casting a clinical white light on the table and painting in a spectrum of shades - from bright reflective white to faded grays and blacks. The starkly monochromatic palette imbues these objects with the illusion of depth and tactility, but also contributes to the work’s overarching austere mood.
A powerful recurring feature of Utarit’s works is its creation of atmosphere and a feeling of the uncanny. Princess with the Umbrella is sparsely composed and elegant, two incongruous objects on a table offset against a flat, oppressive black backdrop, such that the canvas lacks any sense of movement or organic life. The umbrella is deliberately framed to dwarf the princess figurine, and the work distorts ideas of scale and order. In the end, the painting effectively plays with visual perception, stranding a viewer between what seems familiar and impossible, and captures a broader feeling of unease and displacement that Utarit identified in society around him.
This representation of three-dimensional perspective on a two-dimensional plane appears almost photographic in nature, given that Utarit drew from an extensive collection of found objects, from the umbrella and toy figurine found here to items as diverse as bones or metal pans. However, these figurative subjects are visual stand-ins for ‘human behaviors’, and this vision of reality still remains an artificial construction - a careful assembly of objects meant to allude to a more pressing story beneath.
In this work, Utarit adopts and then distorts the conventions of beauty in a still life, placing objects in dialogue with each other and channeling the essence of classical painting to tell a message. In his characteristic cinematic size, this visually imposing piece displays Utarit’s technical skill, and is a poignant example of the artist’s commitment to communicating more with less, filling his canvas with visual metaphors and hidden symbols.
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