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Udomsak Krisanamis, How Deep is the Ocean? (1998)


Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
Udomsak Krisanamis is a Thai artist, now based in New York, who came to the United States in 1991 to pursue an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since then, he has gained a reputation as one of the most interesting abstract painters of note to have emerged in the past decade.

To make paintings like this one, Krisanamis pastes thousands of newspaper strips onto a fabric support and then obsessively inks them out, leaving only selected letter forms: every "O," for example, or the enclosed forms within the letters "P" and "B." What results is a densely layered, mottled, shimmering surface of dark and light suggestive of a night sky or a teeming city after dark. His work has been compared to Robert Rauschenberg's black paintings, Jackson Pollock's all-over compositions, and Robert Irwin's dot paintings, and it also recalls Jasper Johns' early encaustic canvases, which had surfaces similarly built up over newspaper strip collages. The technique grew out of Krisanamis' method of learning English: while reading the newspaper, he would cross out each word he knew, leaving the "blank spots" to be looked up.

Krisanamis' painting fits well within the context of the Walker's collection of postwar abstraction, which often has a personal or allusive content (including work of Vija Celmins, Lucio Fontana, Brice Marden, Kazuo Shiraga, and Yayoi Kusama). The acquisition also supports the museum's mission to collect the work of emerging artists and to purchase work made outside the boundaries of the United States and Europe.

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Type: Commentary, object label
Source: Label text for Udomsak Krisanamis, How Deep is the Ocean? (1998), from the exhibition State of the Art: Recent Gifts and Acquisitions, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, July 22-October 8, 2000.
Rights: Copyright 2000 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009