Mit Jai Inn

November 16, 2023 – January 6, 2024

505 W 24th St
New York, NY

Mit Jai Inn, Untitled, oil on canvas, 109 x 90 cm, 2004.

Mit Jai Inn, Untitled, oil on canvas, 109 x 90 cm, 2004.

Silverlens New York is pleased to present a solo exhibition by leading Thai contemporary artist Mit Jai Inn. Featuring works spanning from 2004 to 2023, the show marks the artist’s first-ever solo exhibition in the United States. The exhibition opens on 16 November 2023. It runs concurrently with Mit’s institutional solo at MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (Chiang Mai), which previously toured Ikon Gallery (Birmingham) and Jim Thompson Art Center (Bangkok).

For over 30 years, Mit Jai Inn has been widely recognized as a pioneer of Thai contemporary art—yet he remains relatively unsung in the United States. Working anonymously with numerous collectives, the artist’s practice is driven by socially-engaged art projects. In 1988, he left Thailand to study at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where he met and apprenticed under the acclaimed artist Franz West. Upon returning to Thailand in 1992, Mit co-founded the Chiang Mai Social Installation (CMSI), an art project and festival series that produced ephemeral installation and performance works in unconventional venues such as temples, public squares, and bridges, among others. Together with Rirkrit Tiravanija and Kamin Lertchaiprasert, Mit established The Land Foundation, an experimental art and community project located in the rice fields which border Chiang Mai. In 2015, Mit founded Cartel Artspace, a gallery in Bangkok that offers free space to artists examining the region’s political history and current context. Two years later, he co-founded the independent Bangkok Biennale.

With his distinctive and vibrant artworks, Mit Jai Inn’s practice challenges traditional painting methods through use of light, color, and structure. He uses palette knives, as well as his hands, to dab and pull paint across canvases, intuitively blending and arranging neon and pastel hues. Working with materials such as cement, sand, and sawdust, he creates complex hybrid objects: both paintings that could be considered sculptures, and sculptures that incorporate painterly techniques.

A focal point of the exhibition is a new, site-specific iteration of the immersive installation Dream Tunnel. Fabricating a room within a room, Mit releases his double-sided canvases from their frames and allows for the ribbon-like panels to dangle from rafters, forming a kaleidoscopic tunnel for visitors to stroll through. Also on view are his Patch Works: unstretched rectangular canvases covered on both sides with thick lines and bold patches of paint, made into grids of interlocking colors. They are included with three sizable Scrolls, which transform a traditional format of Eastern painting into rollable freestanding sculptures large enough for visitors to navigate.

Since the early ‘90s, Mit’s practice has included the manufacturing of social experiences–something the global West might call “relational aesthetics” but which he would describe as an extension of Thai Buddhism. On view will be his papier-mâché Marking Stones sculptures, the artist’s most recent participatory work, which reference ‘bai sema’ (boundary stones) used to demarcate the ordination halls of Thai Buddhist temples. Aiming to spark reflection and action, the artist has proposed a unique dissemination of the works: in addition to outright purchases, individuals can submit a “pledge for good” at the gallery to enter a lottery for the chance to win one of three Marking Stones. Here, Mit challenges contemporary notions of value—personal, cultural, fiscal—as well as the possibility for exhibitions to manifest a social good.

Mit Jai Inn (b. 1960, Chiang Mai, Thailand; lives and works in Chiang Mai) is a prominent contemporary artist celebrated for his distinctive color-based artworks. Employing palette knives, hands, and fingers, Mit creates vibrant, densely layered pieces that defy conventional boundaries of painting, embodying both manual and optical labor.

Rooted in a rigorous physicality, his works serve as a channel for responding to aesthetic, social, and political contexts. His practice reflects a diverse range of histories, from traditional divisions between ‘Western’ and ‘Eastern’ painting to Thailand’s shifting political landscape. Since returning to Thailand in 1992, Jai Inn has been involved in socially and politically engaged art campaigns. He was a co-founder of three non-institutional initiatives central to Thai art practice and discourse: Chiang Mai Social Installation, the Midnight University, and The Land Foundation. In 2015, he founded Cartel Artspace in Bangkok, a gallery that gives free space to artists reflecting on the country and region’s political history and current context. In 2017, he co-initiated the independent Bangkok Biennale.

His traveling institutional solo show, Dreamworld #dreammantra, is on view at MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (Chiang Mai) through April 2024; the exhibition was previously on view at Ikon Gallery (Birmingham) and the Jim Thompson Art Center (Bangkok). Mit Jai Inn’s work has been included in international solo and group exhibitions at TKG+ (Taipei), Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (Kaohsiung), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), and Palais de Tokyo (Paris). He has also participated in the Aichi Triennale in Japan, the 21st Biennale of Sydney, Cockatoo Island in Australia, the Singapore Biennale, and the Yokohama Triennale.