nathan beard

siamese smize

14 september - 13 october 2018

 

Nathan Beard has been working with archives of family photographs from his mother's abandoned home in Thailand over the past five years.

He noted that he is "interested in processing how these archives of intimate material generate an anxious space where I feel both a tangible sense of familiarity and exclusion, given my Thai-Australian cultural background. Siamese Smize explores the condition of this cultural anxiety and a struggle towards authenticity through digital and physical manipulations of found portraits. 'Smize' is a neologism coined by Tyra Banks on America's Next Top Model as the secret to taking the perfect picture - the act of smiling through your mouth but also with your eyes."

The term 'Siamese Smile' was adopted by the Thai tourism industry in 1989 as part of a government campaign, and the implied friendliness and acquiescence of this expression prevails as a signifier of 'Thainess' and Thai stereotypes within a Western context. Complicating this term is the fact that within the Thai language itself there are at least 13 different expressions for smiles, encompassing a range of emotions and non-verbal cues which may appear indistinct or difficult to decipher to foreigners. It's within the volatile space between these two interpretations of the Siamese Smile that this body of work operates.

The photographed faces of his mother and her peers have been painstakingly decorated with masks of Swarovski crystals, leaving only their eyes exposed, lending the portraits a seductively ambiguous, ghostly quality. The smiles of these subjects float above these seductive embellishments on printed sheets of acrylic, the exact meaning of their expressions rendered indecipherable as this constantly shifts and changes with the orientation of the viewer around the work.

The masks of diamantes have links to burial masks or death masks, from various cultures, and traditional costuming, but also reference contemporary kitsch, such as decorative mobile phone cases. Beard's artworks often oscillate between these two dichotomies; the serious exploration of identity, memory, loss and nostalgia that also embraces elements of kitsch culture, language and memorabilia. Combined they create a unique style, shifting and realigning between binaries of East and West, highbrow and lowbrow, and centre and periphery.

Nathan Beard graduated from Curtin University with First Class Honours in 2010 and has been included in important group exhibitions such as Hatched 2008 at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, the 2012 Next Wave Festival at the National Gallery of Victoria Studio (as part of the collaboration The Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere with Abdul Abdullah and Casey Ayres), Memento Mori 2014 at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery UWA and Radical Ecologies 2016 at PICA. In 2017 he had a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, as part of their WA Focus programme. His artworks can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of WA, Murdoch University and Artbank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nathan beard artwork
siam shimmer
digital print on 310gsm canson rag photographique, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
92.9 x 72.8 x 4cm
2018
$3,300
nathan beard artwork
figure 1. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2017-18
$1,800
nathan beard artwork
figure 2. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2017
$1,800
nathan beard artwork
figure 3. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2017-18
$1,800
nathan beard artwork
figure 4. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2018
$1,800
nathan beard artwork
figure 5. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2018
$1,800 sold 1/3
nathan beard artwork
figure 6. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2018
$1,800 sold 1/3
nathan beard artwork
figure 7. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2018
$1,800
nathan beard artwork
figure 8. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2018
$1,800
nathan beard artwork
figure 9. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2018
$1,800 sold 1/3
nathan beard artwork
figure 10. siamese smile, thailand 1970-75
digital print on canson baryta, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
36.5 x 49.5 x 4.5cm
2018
$1,800
nathan beard artwork
halitribe sawatdee thailand
digital print on 310gsm canson rag photographique, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
52.8 x 72.8 x 4cm
2018
$2,500
nathan beard artwork
portrait of queen sirikit as recalled in a past life
digital print on 310gsm canson rag photographique, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
57.8 x 72.8 x 4cm
2018
$2,500
nathan beard artwork
siamese smize [with lotus]
digital print on 310gsm canson rag photographique, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
52.8 x 72.8 x 4cm
2018
$2,500
nathan beard artwork
siamese smize [with thai ceramic pattern]
digital print on 310gsm canson rag photographique, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
67.8 x 93.8 x 4cm
2018
$3,800
nathan beard artwork
siamese smize [with thai floral vector]
digital print on 310gsm canson rag photographique, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
52.8 x 72.8 x 4cm
2018
$2,500
nathan beard artwork
siamese smize [with thai silk pattern]
digital print on 310gsm canson rag photographique, printed acrylic, swarovski elements
67.8 x 93.8 x 4cm
2018
$3,800