“Flowers and paintings of flowers aren’t the same thing – even though there is a connection. In a still life the flowers are free. They are what they are. They are brought forth to be a painting. They are not meant to be an image representing flowers.” – excerpt from Forget Me Not With Artist Palette (2016), artist note by Natee Utarit.
Thai artist Natee Utarit returns to Kuala Lumpur with 29 still-life paintings of flowers, 4 years since his last solo feature held in this city. Utarit’s most intimate series to date after the highly successful Samlee & Co., The Absolutely Fabulous Show which was shown in Jakarta, It Would Be Silly to Be Jealous of a Flower serves as follow-up series to the artist’s most recent survey project of the 5 genres within the traditions of classical Western art.
The loose depictions of melancholic and imperfect botanical images journal the questions and observations of Utarit’s everyday life which he brings to the easel. Flower still-lifes, to Natee, navigate fact and fiction, through painting flowers the artist contemplates life, the human consciousness, reminisce fond memories, questions propriety, custom and ethics that govern our everyday lives. The artist records his ruminations through the painting of these classical metaphors for virtues and vice.
Considered as Southeast Asia’s most accomplished painter of his generation, Utarit questions the disdain that contemporary art has brought upon these subjects that had been tirelessly painted for centuries. Viewing these paintings suggests questioning the modern day perception of these floral and botanical objects, at a time where notions of authenticity for all things are at stake, these painted flowers address the evolution of symbolism and reverence which they no longer carry. Scrutinising the making of these still-lifes, Utarit suspends his inhibitions between the canvas and frames which enunciates timelessness in its embodiment of reality.
Natee Utarit – It Would Be Silly to Be Jealous of a Flower