Natee Utarit - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Thursday, December 3, 2020 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • "I am particularly interested in the meaning of the word ‘innocence’, because there are so many aspects for you to look at. There are different levels of interpretation and comprehension that vary according to our experiences and the way we see the world. ‘Innocence’ can be just a state that no longer exists in the present world."  —Natee Utarit

    Natee Utarit, one of the most gifted contemporary artists in Southeast Asia, is the master of the modern-day vanitas. An outlier in Thailand’s conservative artistic scene, where artists largely restrict their creative vocabulary to Thai-centric religious and sociological subjects, Utarit adopts the pictorial language of Western still life painting to ‘accurately depict the murky, complex atmosphere that surrounds the events of the present.’ i


    The Thai artist’s love of metaphors and hidden symbols manifests itself in Innocence is Overrated (2012) and Dead Duck Principle (2015), both of which appropriate Western-style storytelling traditions popular in classical 17th- and 18th-century Baroque and Romantic paintings to unravel some of the complex history and culture behind contemporary Thai society. These tableaux of inanimate animals, painted in warm, rich hues which jar with the disquieting imagery, use irony to urge the viewer to confront uncomfortable truths in modern society. Both works belong to Utarit’s Optimism Is Ridiculous series, which he began in 2012 and completed in 2017. 

    "Optimism will only be ridiculous 
    when we find it is not that straightforward, 
    not a flat dimension, or not an explicit antonymic pair like black and white. We all live in a grey world where it is hard to determine which angle we should look at things from." —Natee Utarit

    Installation view of 'Optimism Is Ridiculous’ exhibition at Richard Koh Fine Art, Singapore in 2014

    Heir to Eastern and Western painting traditions, but unafraid to radically reinvent the pictorial language of today, Utarit has been honoured with recent solo exhibitions at the National Gallery of Indonesia and Singapore Art Museum, as well as inclusion in acclaimed public collections such as the Bangkok University, Bangkok, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore, as well as private collections in Europe and Asia.

    i Natee Utarit, quoted in Richard Koh Fine Art, Natee Utarit: Illustration of the Crisis, Kuala Lumpur, 2013, p. 9. 

    • Provenance

      Art Seasons Gallery, Singapore
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Singapore, Richard Koh Fine Art, Natee Utarit: Optimism is Ridiculous, 22 January – 22 February 2013

    • Literature

      Demetrio Paparoni, Natee Utarit: Optimism is Ridiculous, Milan, 2017, p. 171 (illustrated)


Innocence is Overrated

signed, inscribed and dated 'Natee Utarit. 12 Optimism is Ridiculous' on the reverse
oil on linen
200 x 150 cm. (78 3/4 x 59 in.)
Executed in 2012, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Art Seasons Gallery.

Full Cataloguing

HK$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for HK$756,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 4 December 2020