Pakpoom Silaphan’s Empire State at Scream Gallery

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Comprising 20 artworks using mixed media, old branded advertising signs and crates, Pakpoom Silaphan offers a unique and engaging take on pop art. Scream Gallery are now hosting Empire State, which is Silaphan’s third solo exhibition. Through the use of objects collected from the streets of Thailand over the years, such as vintage wooden boxes, Pepsi and Coca-Cola signs, our eyes are opened to the idea of Western imagery.

You cannot help but immediately think about globalisation and mass production when viewing Silaphan’s works. You are completely drawn in by the use of iconic figures and advertising campaigns that have been present throughout the world for years, many of which are still ongoing. The use of high-profile artists mixed with everyday advertising in Empire State makes for a clear juxtaposition: the famous Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali are among the few that make an appearance in Silaphan’s work.

The 1960s saw the likes of Warhol and Lichtenstein using recognisable brands and images, and removing themselves from the confines of formal art, thereby making their work unrestricted and exposed to the public. Silaphan’s works portray a similar ideal, but they add another layer to this practice, using those iconic artists themselves as subjects in his pieces.

With the appearance of rust and decay, along with the discolouration of the signs, the concept of history in advertising, and the fact that this message is still much the same even with the passing of time, proves that mass media is still a continuous and growing market. The red, blue, yellow and white colours are all symbols used within these forms of advertising that link to our memories of viewing such advertisements, which is why Silaphan’s works offer a personal message to individuals.

Two pieces stood out for me as holding particularly strong meaning, both of which are part of Silaphan’s new body of work, “The Everyday Project”. Through the use of grids, each square holds a different iconic face, all of which are wearing the globally-known and loved Mickey Mouse ears. This signified two ideas: one being that we are all moulded into the same ideologies through consumerism, and the other, that mass media proves all powerful when viewers so easily recognise the ears and the faces on display. I was also drawn to the piece Frida with Gun on 7up and Warhol sits on Coke sign for its use of strong imagery against bold colours, that attracts the eye to the artwork.

As an admirer of pop art, I thoroughly enjoyed Pakpoom Silaphan’s Empire State, not only for its refreshing take on pop art itself, but because the message that I took from his works is clear and concise whichever way you want to look at it.

To read my original post from One Stop Arts please click here.

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