Image: Bangkok Art Biennale: Robert Mapplethorpe
Robert Mapplethorpe, Self-Portrait, 1980. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.
Artists' News

Bangkok Art Biennale: Robert Mapplethorpe

22 October 2022—23 February 2023

This edition’s theme CHAOS : CALM invites artists to contemplate the tumultuous conditions of the world around us as communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and grapple with urgent climate crises and socio-political uncertainties around the globe. By exploring the binary opposites of chaos and calm, the Biennale aims to reflect on the confusing world we live in and offer glimpses of hope through art; celebrating a diversity of identities, cultures, and histories, and mapping a shared vision for our new post-pandemic world.

One of the most groundbreaking photographers of the 20th century, Robert Mapplethorpe not only tested the boundaries of his medium, but created images that captured the essence of the cultural landscape of his time. His prodigious and powerful body of work consists of editioned, large-format photographic prints that simultaneously adhere to, and challenge, classical aesthetics, while reimagining the traditional genres of portraiture, the still life and the nude. 

The Bangkok Art Biennale presents Mapplethorpe’s most significant group of works to ever be shown in Asia. Spanning a period of almost a decade, from 1979 to 1988, the works on view are infused with the near-sculptural elegance and classical composure that defines Mapplethorpe’s still-life photographs and portraits during this period; subtle directional lighting is used to capture the textural nuances and undulating contours of the subjects’ features. The works on view represent some of the most striking achievements by an artist who delighted in the celebration of difference. 

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