As we develop an understanding of the world through the problems we face, it’s our human reaction to resort to our fantasies; fantasies that we fight so hard to make reality despite hardship. Emerging artist Thepmetha Thepboonta, a graduate from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Chiang Mai University, gives us a glimpse into his fantasy in his first solo art exhibition “Under My Gender” at Seescape Gallery. As an activist for bisexuality through his artwork, Thepmetha will be opening up his work for viewing for the whole month of July.
Although art has always been a form of expression for Thepmetha, his exhibition at Seescape Gallery marks the first time we see his fantasised world. Prompted by his own struggles desiring for both males and females, Thepmetha imagined a world that breaks down the barriers of gender and artistically portrayed it on canvas. His powerful prints and drawings test the boundaries of sexuality by conveying messages of experimentation and equality, all of which relate to his own experiences being bisexual in a predominantly conservative country.
I spent an hour in Seescape Gallery and throughout my time there, I couldn’t help but feel the emotion behind Thepmetha’s twisted dark artwork that directly explores his once hidden sexual desires. The room is filled with contrasting feelings of both happiness and despair, which are shown through the characters and colors Thepmetha introduces in each of his pieces.
In his exhibition, Thepmetha develops various scenes. Metha, a reoccurring character in each of these scenes, is a young man that explores his sexual fantasy and deep subconscious attractions for all genders. Metha encounters a number of experiences that represent Thepmetha’s real life struggles, explorations and feelings being bisexual. Throughout the exhibit, the masked Metha hides his bisexuality under a balaclava to escape the ridicule from society; however, in many of the pieces, you see Metha without his mask, showing the release of his true inner beauty as he pursues his sexual fantasies.
One of the many scenes Thepmetha recreates plays on his first sexual encounter with someone of the same gender. Metha stumbles upon the Sea of Love where he is then introduced to St. Elmo, for whom he develops a deep intimate relationship with. Since meeting St. Elmo, Metha realises that he is in fact different from those around him, as he desires not only women, but men as well. This enlightenment leads Metha to experiment with his sexuality.
Another experience, or scene in which Thepmetha portrays, deals with Metha’s confrontation with Mother Earth, a monster that categorises people into two genders while blocking the door to other dimensions of sexuality. Suffering from the despair of being a misfit, Metha is saved by the Bisexual God that guides him through the door to fulfill his fantasy.
Although Thepmetha’s scenes are abstract and somewhat specific to his own experiences, there are lessons present for those who suffer from the bindings of gender and struggle to find acceptance in the society in which they live.
Thepmetha’s exhibit shows how imagination can change real life existing behaviours. In loom of the discrimination bisexual people face, Thepmetha addresses the situation through his artwork and finds light by creating a fantasy that anyone facing adversity can relate to.