A still life' of Chatchai Puipia
1 ) a monologue
These days everything becomes a dream. A simple thing becomes wonderful. An easy thing becomes hard. Somethings which we should pay attention to have been neglected. What a silly dream.

My painting is about life. Sometime the painting controlled me than I controlled them. Anyway it was still one of a few fun things I can do between the way to the death.

An old music has a sense of nostalgia that withdrawn me from the outside world to recall the past. That's why I like them. All memories are worth more than anything. Just like my stuffs at home. They can't be valuable enough as an antique. But they've been a part of my life and so memorable. Whenever I touch them, I can feel, see and hear those old days. At least I'm not alone. Although some memories were hard.

2) Still life/ life's too still
We have gathered at Chatchai's studio in the evening to view his new painting for his exhibition at Open Art Space. Chatchai paces across his studio, candidly mumbling his thoughts about life and art. He has never been afraid to express his vulnerable, human side verbally or artistically and I am not surprised by what he says.

Chatchai has often literally put himself in his work and in the world, using images of himself in paintings such as Siamese Smile (1994) and Paradise Perhaps (1996) as a means to criticize contemporary society and culture. Siamese Smile portrayed the artist as an angry young man, expressing the artist's frustrations and anger towards society. In Paradise Perhaps, a large scale painting of the artist's butt, Chatchai again makes a critical statement about society and, at the same time, about the dominance of Western narratives of figurative painting.
Maintaining the practice of portraying himself in his work, Chatchai began to move away from social criticism and towards a more subjective and individualistic practice in works such as On the way to Buddha, Encountered Gauguin passing by, I thinktwice' (1999).
Marked a period of personal change in the artist's life, this series reflects an increasing interest in Western and Thai art history and refers specifically to Paul Gauguin's Tahiti period. Referring to Thai tradition, Sickly Sweet (2001), portrays the artist at Royal Court surrounded by young girls, with his head on the floor, positioned next to a terracotta image of Apsara with her hands together as a lotus position. Like The beginning ( 1998) Sickly Sweet reflects a concern with fairy tales, Krua In Khong and an exploration of three-dimensional space. Juxtaposing the old and the new, Sickly Sweet combines figurative and architectonic elements reflecting the clash of traditional and modern in today's urban landscape.

Lately, Chatchai has turned his attention to painting still life in an attempt to explore his life and surroundings.
Turning his back to the streets, cities and society at large, Chatchai has began to self-consciously withdrawn himself from the world and to seek time to be alone. Reflecting his feelings of isolation, Chatchai has also begun to remove himself from his paintings. While he has stated that he no longer wishes to critique society, by removing himself from the world he is making a grand gesture against the community in which he lives, a gesture in many ways far more forthright than his early works.

3) isolation
In his earlier works, Chatchai routinely objectified his own image. Arranging his head and body parts on the canvas, blowing them up to occupy at least a quarter of his surface, the artist became just one of a series of other props represented in his paintings. By doing so, Chatchai effectively objectified himself, blurring the boundary between object and subject, self and other. Should we understand such objectification as an attempt to come to terms with death, as a sort of existential effort to confront a fear of annihilation? Or can we understand it better as an attempt to come to terms with the realities of contemporary culture and society?

Before settling on the title of his current exhibition, Overiooked, Chatchai considered naming this current series *stay home'. Interested in the idea of a self-enforced isolation, Chatchai devised various means to keep himself in his house, to lure himself away from the distractions of the outside world. The objects exhibited in the exhibition are represent components of these lures' record collection, antiques, and personal momentos. They are part of his everyday life that he has chosen to share with us. Perhaps his isolation is not a bad idea at all. It's not quite a dreadful experience.

4) Memory
Withdrawn from the outside world, Chatchai's attention has returned to memories of his past. It is with a sense of nostalgia that Chatchai remembers his late father, his love of antiques, an old *look toong' song ESP, Sornkiri Siprajuab and the local terracotta by Yai Ti, from Sukothai. Father (2000) explores the relationship between death and consciousness, reflecting the artist's feelings as he watched his father dying in his bed, his memory gone and unable to recognize his son. Father portrays the head of an artist floating in the sea, an elephant Iying to his left and a statuesque man to the right.
Nostalgic has become a significant element in Chatchai's work. In Sunday afternoon with Sornkiri (2001), a *still' life a Sunday afternoon, the artist's head occupies almost half of the pictorial space. The head's eyes are closed and its left ear lies on the floor beneath a table and a record of Sornkiri Sriprajaub's popular series of *Buppesanniwas'.

4) Overlooked
Experimenting with various styles and schools, Overlooked explores traditional two-dimension space, inflecting it with discontinued narratives and a combination of abstraction, the figurative, landscape, still life.

Exploring the relationship between memory, inner experience and physicality, Chatchai has turned to elements of his past and present that are often overlooked in contemporary society for inspiration. Presenting these discarded objects as painted still life, Chatchai also brings our attention to the way in which these artistic practices are often overlooked by younger generations, relegated to history, as an old fashioned curiosity. Is he trying to convince us to re-examine these notions, emploring us not to *overlook' them again?

If we are to understand Chatchai's recent work in the context of the individual's isolation and withdrawal from society, should we assume that he is no longer attempting to make a comment on society? Or should we understand such a withdrawal as a loud and emphatic critique of society? I believe that it is through this exploration of individual experience that Chatchai is able to undertake a more mature and sophisticated critique of his society.

Gridthiya Gaweewong is the director and curator of Project 304,
a non profit art gallery based in Bangkok.