Gongkan - New Now & Design Hong Kong Sunday, November 26, 2023 | Phillips
  • “Representing our ability to love and connect with others, the emotions unleashed by our heart guide us through life. When our heart is out of alignment, we feel vulnerable and insecure. When we are discontented, we feel exposed and insignificant. When we pretend to be who we are not, we are not at peace; we feel hollow and envious of others.”
    — Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani


    This painting by Gongkan, entitled Freedom, showcases a character that is central to Gongkan's work—an ungendered, boy-like figure with pale skin and a calm, introspective facial expression. The hair is rendered as an array of sharply defined, individual white forms that might be interpreted as feathers, giving a light, airy texture that contrasts with the smoothness of the skin. A tear or crack seems to emanate from the eye, revealing the real skin colour underneath and adding a touch of vulnerability or sadness to the figure. Featured in Gongkan’s solo exhibition Gongkan: Inner Place at Tang Contemporary in 2022, this artwork is a visual manifestation of the multifaceted nature of identity and self.


    Installation view of the present work (left) shown at Gongkan: Inner Place, 6 November – 5 December 2022, Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing


    On the figure's chest is a stark, removable black emblem showing a white dove in flight. The dove is a universal symbol of peace and may represent a longing for freedom, purity, or the release of the soul. It also aligns with Inner Place's theme of self-acceptance and the journey from social disturbance to personal serenity. The artwork is not burdened with background details, which places all the focus on the figure itself, embodying the ideas of self-examination and the layers of the human psyche. It is a blend of the accessible visual language Gongkan is known for and the deeper emotional experience he aims to convey through his art.


    Recently, Phillips had the opportunity to speak with Gongkan on the creative process behind the conception of Freedom.


    Phillips: The idea of freedom holds a significant meaning in the context of your solo exhibition Inner Place. Could you elaborate on the concept of freedom in your artwork and how it interacts with the notion of an inner place?


    Gongkan: I believe freedom stems from a free heart, which is when you get to think or dream about becoming something greater. However, society and the process of growing up tend to shape how we live – a good influence is the law, whereas a negative example is the deprivation of rights and inequality. Regardless of how much you wish to voice your thoughts or express yourself, you are sometimes held back by social rules.


    Phillips: Your solo exhibition Gongkan: Inner Place explores emotional states through various mediums, including the plexiglass and fibreglass sculptures. How did the choice of materials impact the message and emotion you wished to convey in Freedom?


    Gongkan: I began with the medium that I know best, which is painting on canvas, which allows me to portray my ideas most effectively. Over time, I expanded to other mediums like sculpture and even acrylic sheets. I expect myself to explore even more mediums in the future; I do not see materials as a limit to my art.


    Phillips: In creating Freedom, did you find that your process was more intuitive and spontaneous, or did you follow a structured approach to translate your conceptual ideas into the physical artwork?


    Gongkan: I have been prioritizing my feelings and mental health for a good while, and have delved into understanding my own state of mind. It is mostly what stirs within me or in the society around me that drives my creative work.


    Phillips: The recurring motif of the movable black hole where the heart should be is striking. What inspired this element and what does it signify in the context of Freedom?


    Gongkan: Have you ever heard of the concept that a mind is way deeper than the ocean or even the Universe? That is why every mind is a mysterious place. It can take us on a journey and work its magic to inspire exceptional creativity.


    Phillips: Your work often includes symbols such as doves, keys, and eyes within the central void. In Freedom, what symbol did you choose to nestle in this piece, and why?


    Gongkan: In this piece, I use white doves as a symbol of the mind and freedom that soar through the darkness. It is a crystal-clear symbol that speaks volumes.


    Phillips: The cracked mask revealing the real skin and the right eye underneath is a very intriguing feature. Could you elaborate on this concept?


    Gongkan: The cracks in the sculpture, unveiling the human within, represent the freedom of those who resist being confined to the same mould. On a deeper level, it reveals the beauty standards of ancient times, such as Ancient Greece, defining specific norms as beauty. In reality, we all possess unique identities and do not need to conform to any particular standards.


    Phillips: Your background in advertising and street art seems to infuse your artistic style with a unique language. How do these experiences influence the way you engage with themes like self-acceptance and social pressure in Freedom?


    Gongkan: It does have an impact on me. When it comes to thinking, working in advertising demanded constant out-of-the-box creativity to avoid repetitive ideas, but I always had to consider the customers' needs. Eventually, I made the choice to leave that job and become a full-time artist to create art that truly represents me. I started to get serious about art, beginning with street art, and it pushed me beyond my limits and opened up my world. It gave me the confidence not to feel self-conscious when people observed my work in public. I did not mind the weather, even continuing to draw in the harsh NYC winter until my hand blistered. It also reminded me of the immense power I have to create art.


    Phillips: Having had the experience of living and working in both New York and Bangkok, how do you think these diverse cultural environments have shaped your perspective on art and the themes you explore in pieces like Freedom?


    Gongkan: Living in both Asia and America has shown me the diversity in each place's traditions and perspectives. It has made me more open-minded and understanding about both Eastern and Western cultures. There is a side of me rooted in a traditional, conservative Chinese family, but there is also this rebellious part that just does not care much about those norms. I prefer to be whatever I want to be.


    Phillips would like to thank Gongkan for this interview.


    Kantapon Metheekul, professionally known as Gongkan, is a Thai artist born in 1989 in Bangkok, where he currently lives and works. He pursued his education at the Silpakorn University in Bangkok, graduating from the School of Arts, and later from the Faculty of Decorative Arts in 2011. After his education, Gongkan had a successful career in advertising and graphic design. Seeking to further his knowledge and skills, Gongkan moved to New York City, where he spent three years studying Fine Art, with a focus on painting. It was in New York that he conceptualized ‘Teleport Art,’ a unique form of art that gained recognition for its surreal depiction of individuals emerging and disappearing from black portals, symbolizing travel through multiple dimensions. His recent solo exhibitions include: Gongkan: Inner Place, Tang Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2022; Introspection: Gongkan Solo Exhibition, Tang Contemporary Art Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand, 2021; Tip of the Iceberg, Over the Influence, Los Angeles, 2021.

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Beijing, Tang Contemporary Art, Gongkan: Inner Peace, 6 November - 5 December 2022



signed and dated 'Gongkan 2022' on the right edge
acrylic on canvas mounted on wooden board
overall 160 x 120 cm. (62 7/8 x 47 1/4 in.)
ornament 29.8 x 14.7 cm. (11 3/4 x 5 3/4 in.)

Executed in 2022.

Full Cataloguing

HK$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for HK$330,200

Contact Specialist

Angela Tian
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now & Design Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2058

New Now & Design

Hong Kong Auction 26 November 2023