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10 Mar 2009

Establishing Establishment at SaLon Gallery

Establishing Establishment


Open Hours: Monday thru Saturday 11am to 7pm
Sunday 12pm to 6pm

Exhibition Dates: February 12 thru March 15th 2009

+44 (0) 20 7221 1650
+44 (0) 20 7221 1651

82 Westbourne Grove
W2 5RT

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Curated by Samir Ceric and Ilona Crosthwaite Eyre, SaLon Gallery

Invitation to a strictly private red carpet launch party on Thursday 26th February reserved for journalists, media and art professionals will follow.

SaLon Gallery presents a debut solo exhibition by Pakpoom Silaphan, entitled 'Establishing Establishment' open to the public from 12th February to 15th March 2009.

Growing up in Thailand Silaphan became subconsciously aware of icons of Western culture, but did not understand who they were or what they stood for. It was only when he arrived in the UK at the age of twenty-four to study at Camberwell College of Art that he learnt the significance of these individuals and the roles they played in Western culture. For example, in Thailand he often came across the image of Andy Warhol but due to his appearance i.e. long hair and glasses he assumed Warhol was a scientist (as he looks similar to Einstein). It was not until he attended art school in London that he came to realise how significant Warhol was in the art world – the world into which he was trying to assimilate himself.

Silaphan was brought up in the countryside of Thailand where advertising signs were prevalent, so when he moved to Bangkok he collected them from the street and hung them on his bedroom wall to remind him of his family home. In 2006, after ten years in exile, Silaphan returned home to Thailand and memories of his childhood were reignited when he saw his collection. He favours signs made in the 1970s as this was the decade in which he was born and therefore another reference to his youth.

Weathered and worn from age and pollution, the metal Coca Cola, Pepsi & Fanta signs salvaged by Silaphan are his canvas. It is onto their surface that he creates the image of a famous icon, namely Andy Warhol, the Queen, Che Guevara, the Pope, Woody Allen, Steve Mc Queen and Fidel Castro, to name a few. The bodies and clothing are painted on in white emulsion and black marker pen whilst the faces are carefully cut out of magazines or books. Alternatively, Silaphan scans in an image of the face and prints it onto newspaper as he enjoys the colour and texture of this medium. Silaphan believes that each face is unique and expresses one's individuality and therefore deserves attention to detail; clothing is more generic and is simply painted white.

An entirely new take on sculpture reveals Silapahan's 'Last Supper' series. He utilises 13 individually boxed warning lamps found on building sites each depicting a single figure from the infamous painting by Leonardo da Vinci. Silaphan enjoys the dichotomy of these lamps – they enforce safety but allude to danger. A double meaning is also seen in his 'Last Supper on red wine bottles' sculpture; wine alludes to holy communion but also reminds us of the potential danger (or even death) of over consumption. Superstition is a strong theme throughout Silaphan's work and here he is investigating the long running suspicion of the unlucky number 13 and its relation to religion. He attended a Roman Catholic school in Bangkok where he was made to pray twice a day but admits that he never really understood what or to whom these prayers were for. It was as he grew older and more enlightened that he understood the significance of the Last Supper and the role it played in the history of Christianity. Despite now being a Buddhist Silaphan is fascinated by the intricacies of Christian religion.

Again, Silaphan's lack of understanding of the Catholic religion lead to his sculptures of three discarded ironing boards each inscribed with the first 3 pages of the Book of Genesis from the bible. When he was younger he was forced to read the bible and again, never fully comprehended its importance. The bible's repetitive nature and its constant reinterpretation reminded him of how fashion is today's opium of the masses and like religion it too is constantly shifting and re-inventing itself.

'Elvis on Coke' is a comedic display of 30 coke bottles each with the face of well known celebrities sporting the classic Elvis hairdo. Silaphan is commenting on the phenomenon of celebrity branding to sell products, but also adds his own positive spin. He believes that everybody is a 'King' in their own way and has specifically chosen figures that have helped to shape history e.g. William Shakespeare, Van Gough and Winston Churchill.

Sculptures utilising children's school chairs discarded on the streets of Bangkok highlight the importance of education; Silphan believes it provides equality and gives each of us a chance to shape our lives. The chairs are covered in hundreds of colouring pencils sharpened to a very fine point. He recognises that nobody really enjoys putting in the hard work to reach their full potential, so each pencil is a memento to keeping the mind sharp. The wide ranging colours of pencils is simply a reminder that despite all the colours in the world we are all essentially equal and deserve access to education.

In 2006 Richard Curtis commissioned Silaphan to do a large group image of A-List celebrities including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and George Clooney each sporting a red nose to be added to Comic Relief's corporate collection. In addition his work is owned by prolific collectors around the world including the New Yorker Carl Lobell (who has donated some of his collection to MOMA) and the founder of Pret-a-Manger and Itsu Julian Metcalfe. Fashion designer and art collector Paul Smith has also recently purchased two pieces of Silaphan's work.

Silaphan has endured a thirteen year struggle to reach this point in his artistic career. Leaving behind Bangkok and a job in advertising he came to the UK in 1997 on a six month visa. Inspired by the artistic climate of London he decided to remain here and study Fine Art. Silaphan fully funded his education by selling his work in Apart Gallery in Notting Hill. Upon finishing his studies he thought he had no option but to return to Thailand and his job in advertising. However, after much persuasion he decided to risk staying in London and follow his dream of being a fully fledged artist. A four year battle with immigration and a successful court case in 2006 finally resulted in success. Silaphan has now been granted British Citizenship (2008) and continues to enrich the London art scene with his colourful and thought provoking work.

Notes to Editors:

• Having studied Fine Art at Silpakorm University, Thailand Silaphan moved to London in 1997. He continued his studies at Camberwell College of Art where he completed a Post-graduate course in print making and an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art, Silaphan's work has been showcased in exhibitions all across the globe including America, Japan, Italy and France. In addition, he was shortlisted for the John Moores 23 Exhibition in Liverpool.

• Since its inception, SaLon Gallery has been wholly dedicated to promoting the work of talented graduates emerging from the UK's top art schools. Bi-monthly, SaLon Gallery showcases new works produced by a select group of intentionally bold and provocative artists. Samir Ceric is the curator and director of Salon Gallery which is located in the heart of London's famously stylish and bohemian Notting Hill district.