Pinaree Sanpitak (b. 1961, Thailand) is one of Asia’s most important contemporary artists. In the 1990s, her ground-breaking exhibition Breast Works marked the start of the artist’s reference to an emergent and defining iconography: the women’s breast, which Sanpitak has become renowned for. Over the last four decades, she has developed an enigmatic inventory of symbols distilling women’s bodies to their most elemental parts, expressed variously through vessels, breasts, eggs, and subtly curved profiles. Conflated with imagery of the alms bowl or a Buddhist stupa (shrine), Sanpitak has created a complex lexicon that weaves seamlessly between the sacred and the profane. Characterised by tenderness and ethereality, Sanpitak’s works are tethered to a captivation with her own body and motherhood.
Her sensorial inquiries also reveal a keen sensitivity towards a range of materials, and she has produced an expansive and compelling body of work across diverse media and techniques including painting, collage, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, installation and performance. Underpinning Sanpitak’s practice is an abiding fascination with the potentiality of the body, her own body as sensate space, her lived experience of the bodily as a woman and, more recently, the charged and often convivial space between and among bodies that her participatory works create.
Sanpitak’s works have been shown in numerous museum and biennales, including The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecila Alemani at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Her recent site-specific installations include: A Spirit of Gift, A Place of Sharing, Hancock Shaker Village Museum (2022); The Black and The Red House, Setouchi Triennale, Japan (2019); The Roof, commissioned by Arts Brookfield, Brookfield Place Winter Garden, New York, USA (2017); and Breast Stupa Topiary, Jim Thompson Farm, Thailand (2018).
An overview of her work from 1995-2013 was showcased in a solo exhibition, Collection +: Pinaree Sanpitak, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, Australia (2014). The artist presented Hanging by a Thread at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2013), a solo exhibition featuring her large-scale installation of the same title, which was subsequently acquired by said institution. Another large-scale installation, Temporary Insanity, was exhibited at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, USA (2012) and subsequently at The Contemporary Austin in Austin, Texas, USA (2013). At the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012) she showcased a large-scale installation, Anything Can Break, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
She has also exhibited her works at Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem (The Netherlands), National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, ILHAM Gallery (Malaysia), Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (Australia), Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (Japan), MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (Thailand) amongst many others. In 2007, she received the Silpathorn Award from the Thai Ministry of Culture, one of the top honours for artists in the country.
Sanpitak’s works are included in the collections of the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum (Japan), Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (Australia), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA), Asian Art Museum San Francisco (USA), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (USA), Nasher Museum of Art (USA), Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (Japan), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), Arter–Vehbi Koç Foundation (Turkey), M+ (Hong Kong), and Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (Japan).