We will go on a journey to an exhibition that takes us to explore the life of Manit Sriwanichavum, a photography artist,
This is through the color black and blue, and the journey to death and the next world of “Pink Man”, an important icon created by the artist.
Both remind us of the struggle between the meanings of different colors.
This has happened before in the history of Thai politics.
Whenever Manit Sriwanichapom’s name is mentioned, many people tend to think of Pinkman.
Because the Pink Man series of pictures is the work that made him most famous.
Both in Thailand and internationally to the point that some thought the Pinkman in the photo was Manit himself (in fact, Pinkman was played by Sompong Thawe, a poet and live performance artist).
Manette created the character Pinkman in 1997, portraying him as an obese Asian man.
He wears a stunning pink satin executive suit and travels with an empty supermarket cart in the same color scheme as his suit.
The use of extreme consumerism
Manit uses Pinkman to represent the extreme consumerism that dominates Thai society.
The level of extreme consumption reached such an extent that he no longer cared about anything in society that had nothing to do with him, after which Manet created several series of Pink Man photographic works.
Pinkman travels and appears in various places and events.
In the face of indifference and lack of interest in anything both in Thailand and abroad, such as “The Pink Man on Tour” (1998),
Or even during historical events that constituted major tragedies for the country, such as the siege and massacre of students on October 6, 1976 and Black May 1992 in N.
In Horror in Pink (2001), Manet also took Pinkman to a haunting image with an expression as if he were watching a play.
Pinkman is a surreal character
In most series, Pinkman is the most prominent feature of the picture, or in The Hungry Ghost (2003),
Pinkman is not only the main character, but it’s also as surreal as a skyscraper.
Which may be the same size. However, in some series,
Especially The Pink Man in Venice (2003), Manet chose to depict the Pink Man from a distance.
Until Pinkman got a little small.
In addition, in some photos, Pinkman is standing in open water and there is no pink stroller next to him,
Until then, we can’t help but wonder what Pinkman’s next journey will be like?
Will there be any changes to it?
How will Pinkman end?
For the answer to emerge, Pinkman went through several journeys until 2018 in the series The Last Man and the End of His Story (2018), where Manet photographed raw streets.
In each photo, pink body bags are placed along a road in the United States.
With an abandoned supermarket trolley in the same color next to it, this is of course a harbinger of Pinkman’s death.
But when we look at another work released in the same year, “Projecting the Pink Self” (2018),
We begin to wonder if Pinkman’s death is a death or a metaphor for abandonment.
The era of demolition of Chinese culture
Because in “Projecting the Pink Self” Manet borrows ideas from “Projecting the Han Dynasty Urn” (1995) by director Ai Weiwei,
But as Ai lets the ancient Han Dynasty tractors fall to pieces,
symbolizing the era of demolition and rebuilding of Chinese culture, Pinkman lets his replica doll fall to the ground and cut off its head.
Two of these works are on display again in Manet’s latest solo exhibition, Pink, Black & Blue,
As well as in a new series that continues after Pinkman’s death.
An installation with a miniature Pinkman doll on a wooden boat,
a universal symbol similar to the passage into the afterlife.
But because it’s Pinkman and the boat has a Buddha head and the boat is in an inflatable baby bathtub with a tumbling sea animal pattern,
As for another work, “Celestial Pink” (2023), Pinkman appears in an ancient Thai mural.
From the image of heaven surrounded by angels in the history of Buddha, Buddha met Angulimala.
Or even in the Khrua In Khong murals (artworks by progressive artists from the past have been used by many contemporary Thai artists in their own works recently).
Pinkman’s journey in this series is as open to interpretation as his own work.
With the image that Manet created because we can think from that, this is Pinkman’s journey after freeing himself from consumerism.
Or perhaps it was just his own dream which, even after death, he did not lose his desire for.
Pinkman’s story is in the pink section, which is one of the shades that appear in the pink, black and blue gallery, and the remaining two shades are black,
Meaning “When I Was Twenty”, these are black and white photographic works that Manet has been making since he was still twenty years old.
Students and Blue are part of “I Saw A Blue Wing,” an image Manet uses to capture stories and people.
I encountered while traveling to art festivals abroad with these two pieces of work.
Although they do not have as intense content as Pink, they make us get to know Manit more.
Especially the rebellion (black) that appeared in his work when he was a student and the sense of humor that was sometimes a little dark (blue) in his shots, both of which are still characteristics that we find in his art until now.