“Some years ago I received an invitation card in the mail from a gallery in New York, (Matthew Marks); it was an invitation to an exhibition by a young artist by the name of Peter Cain. Peter was a painter known for his anamorphic splicing of cars; they were coolly painted with the brushes of oil paint thickly applied to canvas. They were the marks of a realist (almost graphic) with the narrative of a surreal world; it was the world of surfaces and the surfaces of the metallic baked enamel of cars. But if cars were his fascination, the anamorphic world of biotechnological mutation was in the shadow of these cars – a world where Dolly the sheep was being cloned and Adobe Photoshop computer software was about to be introduced to the world, offering a new landscape of photographic rendering beyond our imagination. But Peter’s life was cut short and he did not see beyond the age of 37, and the invitation I received was for an exhibition five years after his death.

On the front of the invitation card was a reproduction from a page of Peter’s artist’s notebook: a text that read “More courage less oil”. Taken in context, that message was clearly a note to himself about the dilemma of being a painter and the moral choices one faces in executing a painting. I kept the card on my wall all these years for what I thought was a very inspired thought, not just for a painter but also perhaps for all artists.

Today, in the present context, we face a different dilemma altogether. The question of courage and the thoughts facing our present condition come ironically from the turn of Peter Cain’s inspired message.

LESS OIL MORE COURAGE asks us to face our own desires in the making, and to confront and question them, even as we try to achieve them. How do we, as a society and a community, face our weakness with courage and find the place in our consciousness to redirect the course and path we have been traveling? We will travel to our moral end, but while we are on this road, perhaps a small detour off course can bring us closer, to face the facts and be inspired enough to change.”

Rirkrit Tiravanija
Chiang Mai, Thailand 2007

* 17 January till 15 March and 4 April till 21 June 2009

Rirkrit Tiravanija

Rirkrit Tiravanija, born 1961 in Buenos Aires grew up in his home country Thailand and in Canada. He successfully completed the Whitney Independent Studies Program in New York and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts in Banff and the Ontario College of Art in Toronto.

Since two decades Rirkrit Tiravanija participates in international biennales, exhibitions and festivals such as the Venice Biennale 1993, the Gwangju Biennale und the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (1995), the Manifesta 1 in Rotterdam (1996), the Berlin Biennale and Sydney Biennale 1998, the 7th Istanbul Biennale (2001) and the large Fluxus-Show 40 Jahre Fluxus und die Folgen (2002) in Wiesbaden. Also a number of exhibitions like Räume und Schatten in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (2005), Into Me/Out of Me in P.S.1 in New York and in the KW in Berlin (2006), Surprise, Surprise in ICA in London, the Sharjah Biennale (2007) and the group exhibition Vertrautes Terrain (2008) in the ZKM Karlsruhe belong to this wide range.

To his various solo shows belong Untitled (tomorrow is another day) (1996) in the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, The Land (since 1998), untitled 2002 (he promised) (2002) in the Secession in Vienna, Tomorrow is another fine day (2004) in the museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, ARC Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Serpentine Gallery in London, as well as an exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum in New York after he has won the Hugo Boss Prize in 2004.

Rirkrit Tiravanija lives and works in New York and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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