Martin Browne Fine Art, Sydney
Acquired by present owner from the above on 19 July 2003
Leon Trainer & Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, In Country - Poems by Leon Trainor with
paintings by Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, Bat Trang Road Press, 2012,
limited edition 8/200 signed by Trainer & Vongpoothorn, illus. p.50
Flesh (2003) is a work that finely illustrates Savanhdary Vongpoothorn’s style and technique at the nexus between Laotian philosophies and aesthetics with principles of western Minimalism. Many of Vongpoothorn’s works bear Pali titles and refer to concepts or principles of Theravada Buddhism. Others – like Flesh, or other related works from this period like Rock & Sky (2003) or Topaz (2003) – bear English titles referring to elements or natural forces relevant to these underlying philosophies. At a juncture between South-east Asian philosophy and Minimalism, Vongpoothorn’s titles have both literal and figurative qualities. Read literally, we can perhaps understand this work by reference to its colour – the reds, pinks and browns of all human tissue beneath the skin – or by the way in which she meticulously punctures her works, like piercings through skin. But part of the appeal of this work and Vongpoothorn’s oeuvre more generally is the mystery of meaning in works that resist definition and encourage contemplation.
The practice of repeatedly piercing each canvas is highly time-consuming, a process which Vongpoothorn has spoken of as meditative. The result is more textural than visual and, in a sense, mirrors the undulations of woven surfaces in traditional Laotian textiles. John McDonald has written that “Vongpoothorn’s work defies the camera” for its level of intimate, physical detail that has to be observed at different angles and distances. (‘Savanhdary Vongpoothorn: All That Arises’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September, 2019)
Image courtesy of the artist and Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney