Gardens are usually about the senses – colours, scents, water, birdsong – and Paradise itself is envisioned as a garden. But Piyatat cultivated his Eden as the garden of a mind seeking escape from sensory prison. 

Even so, there is the smoky aroma of sacred plants, which shamans regard as “teachers”, wafting from a trio of bronze pipes being sipped thoughtfully by three dreamy heads in green, black and gold.

There is a Bronze Age Isaan simplicity and potency in Piyatat’s enigmatic bronzes. This isn’t surprising, since he learned to cast bronze in Ubon in the Northeast, which is steeped in prehistory. The sculptures’ solidity notwithstanding, they take us into ethereal realms, not of fantasy but of otherworldly reality.

 

The biblical serpents of Eden that tempt and repel turn into enticing hands and staring eyeballs. The seething “Serpent Brain”, the sprouting “Serpent Heart” and the “Apple Bong” whose sucking hole is the clitoral gateway through which we all enter this world. 

In a necklace of the five-headed (five-sense) naga, Shiva himself holds out to us the consciousness of good and evil, in a world where his divine gift of thirdeye opening ganja is forbidden fruit. 

“If we hadn’t tasted the apple, there’d be no creative ideas, no weapons – and no art,” says Piyatat. “We’re punished for it, but other forbidden knowledge can so pervade us with consciousness of reality that we can free ourselves.”

 

News Reporter

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