Thai-born artist Pakpoom Silaphan’s street-inspired work is a mash-up of recognisable modern and contemporary artists and the brand logos of mega brands. Focusing on the figures of the artists themselves and placing them alongside foreign yet universally recognisable motifs on vintage signs, Silaphan comments on the way contemporary art has become a commodity, and the artists brands. This November, this pointed collection is on show at London’s Scream gallery.
Dazed Digital: What is the significance of placing famous artists with recognisable brand logos?
Pakpoom Silaphan: When I was a child growing up in rural Thailand, we were surrounded by Coke, Pepsi and Fanta signs. Over time these signs formed an iconic corporate wallpaper that was to become intrinsically linked with my childhood. Later in my life, when I was living in Bangkok, I started collecting these signs to remind me of my childhood, and when I returned to Thailand after a decade long hiatus studying Fine Art in London, I saw my collection in a completely different light, for the first time seeing that they were every bit as embedded in popular culture as the artists I had been studying in London - And from that a new series was conceived.
DD: Do you feel that modern contemporary art has been commoditised like these brands?
Pakpoom Silaphan: Yes I think to some extent it has, but if this enhances the creative process for an individual artist, then I think it is a good thing, but if that artist embraces this shift in the market place cynically, then I believe his cynicism will be easy to see.
DD: What are your views on money and art? Do you feel artists and their estates treat themselves as a brand now?
Pakpoom Silaphan: I'm not really qualified to talk about that, but I think that it's good for artists to have money, as it normally encourages them to develop and implement new ideas, to improve the quality of their production, and to widen the scope of their ambition.
DD: The brands’ logos you use look different, recognisable but slightly skewed from the recognisable western template - Pepsi but Thai Pepsi etc - what does this say about the way art is perceived by those who perhaps "don't know the language"?
Pakpoom Silaphan: The signs themselves don't have any meaning as such; they all make the same sound in every language. Without knowing it, the original endeavour of these global brands to sell product in different territories, inadvertently ended up assimilating many different cultures under one roof merely by using a strong graphic and the same sound.
Scream starts 18 November 2011 – 7 January 2012, at 34 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QX