Since we last featured Vipoo Sivilasa, a national tragedy has befallen his first homeland. Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who ruled for 70 years, passed away in October last year. ‘There are no words to explain my feeling of loss… this was a heartbreaking time for me personally. I then felt the need to create work that was uplifting and expressed happiness,’ explains Vipoo, who moved to Australia in 1997. As a result, the artist has spent the past seven months creating Happy Together, a body of work exploring his own happiness and the emotion’s contagious qualities.
This concept took a tech-inspired turn when Vipoo decided to look at happiness through selfies! ‘According to researchers at the University of California, taking and sharing happy photos can have an uplifting effect on your mood. Based on this study, I created “selfie sculpture” inspired by the many photos I came across online,’ he details. In his sculptures, the ‘V for Victory’ (or two-fingered peace-sign) features prominently. It is a clear reference to ideas of peace and happiness, the message it widely and enthusiastically conveys among Asian cultures.
The artist’s signature colour palette prevails in this collection, which he sees as a contemporary continuation of traditional blue-and-white ceramics. As an added dynamic and link to shared prosperity, Vipoo’s pieces come grouped in posses, inspired by real-life selfie groupings.
Vipoo creates from his crowdfunded studio-cum-community centre, ClayLAB in Melbourne. ‘It is a place of cultural exchange for Melbourne’s ceramics community, as well as a place to create my own artwork,’ he says. ‘The studio allows me to offer community-based projects more often and be more experimental.’
Following his current show at Edwina Corlette Gallery, Brisbane, Vipoo will be exhibiting throughout October at Hugo Michell Gallery in Adelaide, the city that hosted his first solo show 17 years ago. Since basing himself in Australia, he has returned to Thailand every couple of years, and will be visiting his mother in Bangkok soon. ‘I am going to Thailand this July to say farewell to His Majesty the King,’ he tells. Safe travels Vipoo!
ClayLAB is having an open weekend, on August 19th to 20th, as part of the Australian Ceramics Open Studios 2017, and Vipoo Srivilasa is also organizing a Superhero project with Kings Arts. Find out more through his newsletter and website, here.