Manita Kaewsomnuk works quickly yet attentively. Once she acquires inspiration, she envisions the painting in her head. Within days it has been replicated onto canvas. The results are vibrantly vivid illustrations depicting notions of femininity, intimacy and erotica whilst incorporating contemporary and historical situations. Fascinated by the intricacies of human relationships and interactions, Manita explores their emotional and sexual layers and their positive and negative effects. Often using portraiture as a way of accessing human feeling within her work, Manita is captivated by the face and its ability to hold a multitude of expressions and tell a multitude of stories.
Despite her life-long love of painting and the artistic household in which she grew up, Manita’s journey as an artist has only just commenced. In her home city of Bangkok, Thailand, Manita worked in advertising, however within the last year she decided to move to Germany to follow a more creative direction. Describing this residency as a ‘starting point’ for her professional pursuit as an artist, Manita is excited for the opportunity to develop her style.
Manita’s modern Pin-up Girl.
Manita’s paintings are saturated with colourful, rich imagery of female beauty and sexuality. Nude women hold a strong presence in her work, posing in poised and provocative ways. Drawing from the ‘Pin-up Girl’, an icon that saw widespread popularity throughout the 20th century, Manita adopts a vintage style. Her figures parallel this mass-produced model that had become a subculture by the ‘60s. They express notions of glamour, sex appeal and the perceived ideal female body. She depicts her characters as ‘naughty, sexy and cute’. They take control of their femininity and find pleasure in their sexual subjectivity. Through a nostalgic lens, Manita emphasises the ‘60s as the turning point in women’s erotic self-awareness.
Manita seeks inspiration in the everyday.
From the pop culture of the past to that of today, Manita’s art is informed by film, music, books and the everyday. By subtly weaving these inspirations into her work, Manita paints with an immanent symbolism. Her surroundings and media are never a subject of her work yet always part of the process that shapes it. This is evident as artists like Lana Del Rey are frequently heard from Manita’s studio, music that touches on the same themes of nostalgia, sex and gender culture as her own work.
all photos PILOTENKUECHE
Experience and encounters are also fundamental to Manita’s subject. Here at PILOTENKUECHE she wants to shed light on the sex industry in Bangkok, having volunteered with a charitable foundation that provided support to sex workers. Manita aims to explore the social issue of dehumanising and denying rights to those without a choice. Based on conversations she had with these individuals, Manita will emphasise their emotions, thoughts and stories in order to actively ‘re-humanise’ them via her art.
“Art can make movement in society”.
Manita’s recent project, Long Live the People (2020), depicts the ongoing protests occurring in Thailand against the government of Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha. The illustration is comprised of a naked character reminiscent of the pin-up girl, with a white ribbon and three-fingered salute that has come to represent the resistance. The youthful tone parallels the protesting demographic as mostly students and young people. Expressing solidarity with the democratic movement and its call for monarchical reform, Manita uses her art to engage in contemporary affairs within her country yet from afar. She hopes that these societal changes will bring her art more public engagement when she returns to Thailand and that people will give it the power to make movement in society.
To see more of Manita’s work, visit her website and instagram.
Sat 14 Nov, 7PM-10PM
Sun 15 Nov, Thurs 19 – Sun 22 Nov
12 noon – 4PM
Fri 18 Dec, 7PM-10PM
Sat 19 Dec – Mon 21 Dec
12 noon – 4PM
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program