The new series of photos of Maitree Siriboon called Save my buffalo has been launched at the occasion of the Grand Opening of YenakArt Villa: The Kiss, Pink Miro, Family Dot and Family Colors are powerful images paying tribute to the buffalo as a symbol of Thailand’s culture and history. For the artist, the buffalo helped build Thailand into a rice-farming nation, and then into the modern nation it is today, on the one hand. On the other hand, today, he regrets that you hardly see buffaloes working in rice-fields and despite the fact that they remain here one of the most respected animals, it has recently become a metaphor for many negative attitudes.
Three of the four photos are featuring the albino buffalo that Maitree Siriboon has bought and is rasing in the Issan village he was born. The buffalo has been painted with natural colors, imported from India and which are used there for the sacred cows.
Each of the three photos has his own particular story, related with the personal experience of the artist, but all of them are conveying the same multiple metaphors. By painting the buffalo, Maitree Siriboon underlines, with a strong sense of humour, that the buffalo is playing a new “decorative” role in contemporary Thailand. The contrast between the modern world-famous paintings, the kindness of the buffalo, with his charming look, and the Issan landscape, is related to the “cultural choc” that the artist has experienced when he came back to his village after his first long-term journeys in Europe.
The fourth photo, Family Color, has a slightly different background. Maitree Siriboon asked the farmers to paint their own buffalos in a spontaneous way. The result is striking.
The complete series, up to 10 photos, together with new mosaic works, will be showcased in Maitree Siriboon’s Solo show at YenakArt Villa in June 2016.
In addition to these four photos, Maitree presents at YenakArt Villa a series of three dimensional lotus (bua) shape mosaic ‘disco balls’ that were recently created during his five month residency at Thaillywood in coastal Chonburi province.
The Disco Lotus are a new step in Maitree’s mozaic art which evolves from the decorative glass encrusting Thai temples. Rich in flora and fauna, the partly autobiographical imagery is born from childhood memories of rural upbringing, shepherding water buffalo to nearby paddy fields while his mother sold lotus flowers to fund his education. His use of shimmering reflective materials conveys a sense of distant recollection and illusion. He is furthering his previous deliberations towards fellow Isan characters who aspire to the metropolitan ideal, while injecting their own cultural nuances to the urban conflation.
Born from the Bangkok nocturne, the immersive installation of Lotus Disco evokes a nightclub atmosphere of disco globes, flashing lights, pumping tunes, and smoke filled rooms. Subverting negative connotations of the capital’s nightlife, Maitree envisions the discotheque as a metaphor for the experiences of Isan folk who populate the entertainment industry. Encrusted in colorful narratives, the Lotus Disco installation is a surreal hedonistic temple, mesmerizing in its disorienting seduction. Blurring dream and reality, Lotus Disco is about defining oneself in adoptive environments.