In Places of Rebirth, Rawanchaikul narrates his family’s migration and his own cross-border and cross-cultural negotiations. Painted in the style of the Indian movie posters that fascinated the artist as a child, the work’s self-conscious populist aesthetic reflects an artistic practice that moves from billboard painting to sculpture and pulp comics. Produced in collaboration with former cinema billboard painters, this panoramic display blends multigenerational images of the artist’s family and friends with those of people he encountered in Pakistan, and historical images from the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. As a portrait of a community’s passage through time and space, his navigation of regional geopolitics is represented through his imaginary journey as a Thai artist in a local taxi (onomatopoeically known as a tuk-tuk), that transports him, along with his Japanese wife and their daughter, across the famous Wagah border dividing India and Pakistan. The painting underscores the way in which the idea of nation is defined by historical narrative, while layering that narrative over the personal and the imaginary. The painting is peppered with upbeat and optimistic messages of brotherhood, friendship, and togetherness that stand in stark contrast to the nations’ present divide. This reimagining and blurring of identity reflect the artist’s desire for a communion based on a dismantling of borders between nations and individuals.

June Yap


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