Wohnzimmer is a solo exhibition of Somboon Hormtientong. Known for his abstract paintings and witty installations, Hormtientong aptly creates the mediating room for the dialogue between himself and the viewers. Wohnzimmer exemplifies Somboon Hormtientong's grounded approach to art.
In Wohnzimmer, Nova Contemporary would like to discuss Somboon Hormtientong's gestures in his art. In painting, his monochromical strokes create the lines and forms for the movements to explore space and time in abstraction. His non-representational geometrical shapes deliver a meditative ambiance. In the installation, he recognises the form of things and quests the status quo and beyond. The subversive gestures are his protests against the logic and reason of capitalist society.
Born in 1949, Hormtientong is one of Thailand's forefront trailblazers pursuing abstraction in paintings. After studying and working with Thai-Chinese mentor Tang Chang, Hormtientong went to study at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, Germany, in 1973. He participated in a time of enormous social, cultural, and artistic changes in Germany.The formal experiences in Germany compelled Hormtientong to explore the transnational ideas about culture and identity, which helped affirm his artistic practice, in which abstraction and calligraphic artistry with wry wit.
After returning from Germany, Hormtientong decided to work and live on the bank of the Mekong River in Chiang Kang. The experiences and memories of Thai culture and people are the inspirations for his later works. In Wohnzimmer, unlike his early paintings, Hormtientong tries to break free from common emotive gestures; he applies simple lines to create the geometrical forms on the canvas. However, if we look closer, the simplicity comes from the layers of inexhaustive brushstrokes. In the black and white paintings, the calligraphical strokes are like breaths, sometimes shallow and sometimes deep, creating the rhythms of the works. His deliberate leave- it-white or cover-it-black compositions are the space he makes for contemplation. The evocative energy of the painting doesn't come from the outward expressive resistance but arrives through the intensive inner strength.
The large-size green painting is another exploration; he mentioned that he smelled the fragrance of orange jasmine flowers while painting it. The rice sacks he uses as the stand of the painting are from the local rice farmers. His use of rice sacks shows his view of art; art should be readily available and down-to-earth. His fast brushstrokes try to capture the glimpse of smell, the ephemeral immateriality in life. The internal landscape unfolds and opens up the space between the human experience and nature.
Hormtientong is always interested in the implicit relationships between the mundane objects; it can subtly reveal the identity, culture, and politics. His installation works are great examples.The exhibited installation suggests ubiquitous daily life. The textures, the shapes, and the positions of each object are carefully selected or made. He sophisticatedly orchestrates the objects to form a situation to allow the narratives to be distinct. For example, the tilted chair hanging on the side stretcher of the table seemingly suggests a child playing and rocking on the chair, mocking the seriousness and heaviness of all. The sense of playfulness embedded in the installation reminds us of the light-hearted but profound spirit in Thai culture.
Wohnzimmer exemplifies his dialectical spatial exploration with cultural reflections. Hormtientong expands his predecessor's gestural, expressive style to meditative landscaping refinement. Ultimately, it is his Geist that instills, flows, and distinguishes his works.