Lot 231
  • 231

NATEE UTARIT | Princess with Umbrella (Illustration of the crisis series)

320,000 - 450,000 HKD
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  • Natee Utarit
  • Princess with Umbrella (Illustration of the crisis series) 
  • Signed, titled, inscribed and dated 10 on the reverse
  • Oil on canvas 
  • 140 by 170 cm; 55 by 67 in. 


Natee Utarit, Illustration of a Crisis, Richard Koh Fine Art Sdn Bhd, 2013, p.43, p.232.


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. Framed.
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Catalogue Note

Natee Utarit’s striking work Princess with the Umbrella (2010) merges his preoccupation with illustrating the boundaries between reality and fiction, alongside a broader commentary on Thailand’s complex sociopolitical matters. This work itself is drawn from his seminal series Illustration of the Crisis, with a titular reference to Thailand’s governmental crisis between 2009 and 2011 - a visually and thematically bold attempt to comprehend the sweeping social unrest Utarit witnessed firsthand. The present piece therefore draws on the language of concrete things and images - with the wealth of symbolism they contain – to portray these social issues in all their complexity. 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.