Montien Boonma
HOUSE OF HOPE

First impressions count; and one's first impression here is the fragrance of Oriental spices. The artist mixed saffron, ginger, and eucalyptus (to name a few) with rice paste, then painted cloudlike sworls in a band encircling a "house" of hanging beads, this enclosure broken only by a doorlike break at the far end. The beads, too, are of spice. A low platform rises into and under the "house". The first impression: beauty, pleasure, a relief. Only later does one learn that HOUSE OF HOPE is a kind of prayer, an offering, an elegy dedicated to the artist's wife, who died of cancer not long ago. This work is an act of faith performed despite the failure of prior offerings. Grief carefully masked, sublimated, and then reversed. A tinge of sadness lingers, along with the intoxicating scent of spice.

The following has been excerpted from an interview by Albert Paravi Wongchirachai. "When we got married, a monk said we would not last together. He said we had to live apart for ten years. So I went abroad to study for three years. As soon as I got back, the monk told me to stay in Chiang Mai, and did not permit me to return to Bangkok. It was all very strange. And when I returned to Bangkok, we were again told to live separately. The monk would always remind me: 'You must wait ten years, has it been ten years yet?'

"In 1991, in September, when I went to stage my exhibition in Japan, we found out she had cancer. So the ten years were up, and she died. All this made me believe more in the spiritual, because it seemed as if it were all fated.

   Montien Boonma
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