Tales from the kitchen of Thailand’s most gruesome baker
Since 2006, Kittiwat has used dough as his medium, making a name for himself with his edible creations molded to look like bloody body parts, including heads, arms, feet and legs.
“My family is in the bakery business and I learned to bake when I was about 10,” says Kittiwat. “I want to speak out about my religious beliefs and dough can say it all. Baking human parts can show the audience how transient bread, and life, is. Also, my bread is still bread no matter how it looks.”
To say Kittiwat’s creations are realistic looking would be an understatement. In fact, they’re so lifelike they look like they were swiped from a forensics lab.
Baking with brains
Dismembered human body parts covered in blood are packaged like fresh food found in supermarkets. To achieve this authentically horrific aesthetic, Kittiwat spent a great deal of time studying anatomy and visiting forensic museums while at the same time working to improve the taste of his artworks.
“The first series was edible, but they were not delicious. And I don’t want art to just be an object of art; I want the audience to feel involved. I tried hard to make the artworks more and more flavorful,” says Kittiwat.
In 2008, Kittiwat baked fresh heads for the audience to eat at his Body and the Dead exhibition -- the tiny heads smelled and tasted fantastic -- though it was an odd sensation if you allowed yourself to look into their eyes before biting into them.
More recently, Kittiwat and his friend exhibited their sculptures and paintings in a show called Art Now at a clothing shop in Bangkok’s Siam Theatre in May this year, prior to the building being set alight during the city’s recent unrest.
“I want to experiment and think art shouldn’t only exist in galleries or museums. We got good feedback until the fire. The shop wasn’t in the burnt area but the smoke devastated most of our works.”
Cooking up more artworks
Kittiwat is now taking a break from his art and is working full time as a baker at his family’s factory in Ratchaburi, about an hour west of Bangkok.
“When my brother and sister passed away, I had to jump in and run the family’s bakery business. At first I thought I wouldn’t get to work on my art again. Surprisingly, every day when I bake, ideas keep coming to me on how to use dough to make art. My next works will not be related to the human body, I want to do something different. It will take me quite a long time before my next show, though,” he says.
In the meantime, don’t bother making the trip to Ratchaburi to buy a freshly baked severed head for your boss. The factory produces just ordinary bread, as Kittiwat is firm that his art is not for commercial purposes.
Fortunately, curious art appreciators can check out Kittiwat’s 2008 Body and the Dead exhibition, which has been resurrected for Bangkok’s Whitespace Retro show at Whitespace Gallery, on now until August 8. Also on show are exception pieces from 14 other artists, including Michael Chaowanasai, Top Changtrakul, Vasan Sitthiket and Maitree Siriboon. If you are in the mood for violence, check out the pieces by Pornpraset Yamazaki, which were painted with his own blood.
Whitespace Gallery is open Tuesday-Friday, 1-7 p.m., and Saturday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.. The gallery is on the second floor of Lido Theater, Siam Square Soi 3.