The NRF South African Research Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture Faculty of Art, Design, and Architecture, the University of Johannesburg in partnership with Wits School of Education, and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta Global Exchange program hosted Art Department’s Dr. Pearlie Rose S. Baluyut’s curatorial talk, “A Global Menagerie: Captivating Portraits of Predators and Preys.”
Based on the exhibition of the same title that she curated, Baluyut gave a biographical overview of the contemporary Thai painter Wattuya, a formal analysis of his watercolors, and an art historical reflection on the exhibition theme, beginning with how Art History chronicled mankind’s visual obsession with itself and its invention: the Other—mythic or divine, familiar or grotesque, sheathed in gold or scales, inhabiting a summit or the underworld. From anthropomorphic gods to caricatured ghouls, creatures of fantasy, according to Baluyut, mirrored humanity’s ascent and descent as the latter mastered its unpredictable environment since time immemorial. Indeed, power manifested itself as man’s negotiation with nature—a perpetual tug of war where the predator and the prey were interchangeable.
During the Q&A, Baluyut held a video conference with the painter Wattuya who was presently in Tokyo, Japan, and the attendees were able to ask him questions despite the seven-hour time difference. The exhibition Menagerie: Paintings by Tawan Wattuya, which provides a colorful panorama of our progress, runs from February 6 to March 15, 2019 at the SUNY Oneonta Project Space Gallery in Oneonta, New York.