1. Parinya Tantisuk. National Artist (Visual Arts) Kamol Tasananchali.
Yr.44, Vol.30, 28 December, 1997 – 3 January, 1998.
Artists being the egoists that they are, it is not often that they can come together, big and small, setting aside their own pride for a moment to share their hearts in praise and celebration of one of their own.
Parinya recently partied with a group of 70 – 80 artists at the Siam City Hotel to congratulate Kamol Tasananchali on being awarded an honorary degree in painting from Burapa University. While celebrations were still in progress, the news came that Kamol had been named as a National Artist in the category of visual arts by the National Culture Committee.
The atmosphere at the party was quite cordial. Chalermchai Kositpipat was the master of ceremonies at a bash that included, for example, a professor from the Royal Institute, Prakit (Jitr) Buabutr; National Artist Chalerm Nakirak, Sawasdi Tantisuk, Prateuang Emcharoen; former dean of the Faculty of Painting, Silpakorn (PSG/SU), Pishnu Supanimitr; master artists Assoc. Prof. Decha Worachun, Asst.Prof.Tavorn Ko-Udomwit, Chatchai Puipia and Wijitr Apichatkriengkrai. These were some of the guests from Bangkok. There was a contingent from Burapa University in Chonburi. That evening, Kamol was celebrated heartily. Jitr Buabutr spoke of how warmly Thai artists visiting the US under the auspices of the Thai Arts Council (Kamol is chairman) were received, provided with room and board and working materials.
Chalerm Nakirak recalls Kamol as a diligent, selfless, far-seeing student at Poh Chang who took the opportunity to go to study in the US when it came his way. He also praises the artist’s wife, Nuan, Kamol’s ‘backup’ who cooked delicious meals for countless visiting artists. Not the least reason for the praise and honor is the quality of the artist’s work, which has kept coming continually for so long. The Thai Arts Council is 30 years old now and still functioning. Kamol remains active on behalf of Thailand’s high artworld.
Commentary: The high art world was in grand good spirits on that night with an over-flowing of good will. With the devastated economy at home, artists in Thailand appreciated more than ever the faithful and generous spirit of encouragement, epitomized in the person of Kamol, coming from the Thai expatriate community of art lovers in California.
2. Parinya Tantisuk. Saying Goodbye to the Old Year.
Yr.44, Vol.31, 4 – 10 January, 1998.
Parinya urges his readers to be discriminating in the news they read or listen to in the media. It is necessary to be informed, but one should not listen to news that is brutally down-heartening – for example, gruesome road accidents.
Our emotions can be influenced by the news we listen to. We can be encouraged and uplifted, or become sad and hopeless. Better choose the good and avoid the depressing.
And he recommends the wisdom of Buddhist teaching to avoid places which are ‘not appropriate to visit,’ such as gambling dens or drug parties. There are good ways and bad ways to lighten the anxious heart. Excessive drinking and using drugs is not a good long-term solution to anxiety. These substances tend to be expensive and damage the health, and there may be family problems as a result.
The body and the mind are link and inter-related. Thus, the critic urges his readers to keep smiling. Anxious feelings will fade away when the smile shines through. It may take practice, but, as Parinya points out:
‘When we smile, the muscles of the face exercise. The muscles of the mouth connect with the cheeks. The cheeks connect to the ears, which connect to the forehead, and to the top of the head, where the brain is located. So all these will begin to relax and the feelings of relaxation get to the brain, and the heart too. If you smile often, you get better on your own.’
Knowing how to give and receive is also healthy and uplifting, for example, sending and receiving cards at the new year. Everyone feels good when they send or receive a holiday greeting.
Nothing remains forever, and this economic crisis cannot go on forever either. We can learn from this experience and find out how to create a better, more stable future.
Another way out of anxiety and tension is exercise, playing sports, going to the temple, consulting learned monks or good friends, reading, listening to music or looking at art.
Parinya presents large reproductions of pictures of beautiful scenes from nature by Tavi Nandakwang, Charoon Boonsuan and Damrong Wong-uparat, closing with the wish that his readers may all have energy enough to smile and to create a life for themselves and their communities, clear and transparent.
Commentary: The critic passes on some simple and handy advice to readers on how to cheer themselves up [as the nation continues to pass through the painful difficulties of the collapse of the financial sector.] As he notes, there is not much about art and culture in this week’s column, but Parinya is sincerely concerned about his disheartened fellow citizens and readers. The gentle compassion in the plain and modest advice is not only sensible but very touching.
3. Parinya Tantisuk. Happy New Year and Welcome Amazing Thailand.
Yr.44, Vol.32, 11 – 17 January, 1998.
Giving a nod to the opening ceremonies of ‘Amazing Thailand’ at the Sanam Luang grounds, Parinya observes that there are many uses for art. The art of Thailand is very special, a culture with ancient roots. Unfortunately, the political leadership seems blind to the value of art and doesn’t give much support to the artworld. Those who are aware and appreciate the nation’s artistic heritage can help each other, give support, preserve, collect, and keep these treasures for future generations. The traditions of Thai art represent not only highly skilled craftsmen, but talented creative artists as well. Parinya mentions Chalud Nimsamur, Preecha Taothong, Panya Wijintanasarn, Prasong Leumuang, Porchai Jaimar, Prayom Yorddee, Jintina Piemsiri, Rattanachai Chairat, Asawinee Nirand.
‘These people make works of art which have their own distinctive characteristics, the character of their own locale, able to express the feeling of the Thai way of life. It is Thai art of the Rattanakosin era, a period with its own distinctive character.
‘We should know what good things we have, both works of art and artists. We must see the value of the work and of those who support it.
‘We pass on from one generation to the next and bring the art to use again so that the good can be handed on, not just appearing so very briefly, not just completed and then gone, disappeared. It’s not a deception, a play to amuse the whites for a time, like burning straw that flares up in a brief flame on opening day.’
Parinya considers how tourism in Europe is stimulated by the fame of the art, for example, of Germany and Italy, or in Asia, the art of Japan.
‘People from other countries travel there to see the unusual beauty, so different, so very characteristic of the country, which no one else has. And we have that distinctive art, too.’ With 2 years of Amazing Thailand ahead, what will become of Thai art?
Commentary: The critic acknowledges a state-sponsored campaign to encourage tourism in Thailand. Traditional Thai ways, so exotic for foreigners, represent for Parinya a rich cultural heritage of craft and high art. The Europeans gain fame and honor for their arts, as do the Japanese. Thailand, too has distinctive art. But, with two intense years ahead of campaigning to attract tourists, what is going to become of Thai art? Echoing the anxiety of Wibul Lisuwan but without the bitterness of Manit Sriwanichphum, Parinya seems to shudder as he contemplates what is happening to the traditional culture as it is gaudily dressed up and shoved onstage to dance for tourism revenues.
4. Parinya Tantisuk. Children’s Day.
Yr.44, Vol.33, 18 – 24 January, 1998.
‘Last week I received a package from a group of artist-children in Khon Kaen. They sent a catalog and a postcard from the exhibition of children’s art in Khon Kaen. It was the 3rd such annual exhibition…I would like to share with you the lovely works from the heart of the children who made this art, and thanks to the children who sent it. Whoever has news about art, please send it. I’ll be happy to announce art activities of anyone to the benefit of the artworld. ‘
Parinya quote the catalog article:
‘We all have dreams. The dreams of children are pure, bright and fresh. Works of art are one form in which children are able to express their own dreams to share with others who may understand.’
The article closes by taking note of children who are neglected or abandoned and whose dreams become dark and ominous, like a street urchin who, when asked what he wanted to be, replied, ‘a robber.’ These are not your children or mine, but we would do well to take better care of them, the writer suggests.
Commentary: News from upcountry about an annual exhibition of children’s art in Khon Kaen is passed on by Parinya to his readers. There was even a catalog published and sent to the SilpaWattanatham critic. It is an encouraging sign from the provinces and reflects the role of Siamrath Weekly and the Silpa Wattanatham column all over the country. Despite his determination to see the world in a positive light, the critic darkens in the face of a contrasting report about neglected and abused street children.
5. Parinya Tantisuk. Works Which Give Hope by Yupha Changkul.
Yr.44, Vol.34, 25 - 31 January, 1998.
The critic introduces the 28 yr-old graphic artist and MFA graduate from Silpakorn University by listing the various competitions and exhibitions from which she emerged a winner during the past 5 years or so.
Yupha is an optimistic person, looking for happiness in life and finding it. Her works, full of symbols such as schools of fish, herds of elephants, boats, ducklings, baby turtles, lotus, bird’s nests and streams, radiate feelings of warmth and compassion.
Parinya particularly admires one of Yupha’s etchings of a flock of birds on power lines and a bird in a nest, and another in which a group of little animals come together as if in an allegory of a peaceful society. He praises Yupha’s technical skill as a graphic artist and is charmed by her images of small forest animals in a relaxed atmosphere.
‘Yupha has many more works than I have shown here,’ he notes. ‘I think these works are encouraging to our feelings, and people can appreciate them. And Yupha is someone special. She has her own unique way of recording feelings and memories. Her imagination goes beyond reality. Her delicate and sensitive emotion is her [artistic] tool.’
Commentary: Translating these articles from photocopies, and reading summaries of them without seeing the illustrations leads one to consider the culture of reproduction in printed media. The photocopied images of Yupha’s work look like pictures from cute greeting cards. The researcher realizes the need to go back to the magazine, bound on the shelves of the library, to seek more visual support of the critic’s analysis. Even then, the reproduction in that issue of Siamrath Weekly will be a pale shadow of the original.
The fact is that most people see famous works of art primarily in reproductions which, like the images under discussion here, are a far cry from the original works. Reproductions of artworks, such as those in the SilpaWattanatham column, represent a whole other realm of experience, only distantly related to the experience of the viewer who stands before the original in a gallery or a museum.
In reading Parinya’s descriptive analysis, the researcher wondered why the critic privileged this artist with a serious discussion, when the images look very saccharine. The question of what Parinya is doing, what he thinks he is doing, and what he should be doing in his writing here is a fairly complex one.
6. Parinya Tantisuk. The Order and Simplicity of Titapol Suwankusolsong.
Yr.44, Vol.35, 1 – 7 February, 1998.
Parinya takes this opportunity to give a fond and leisurely description of the type of the graphic artist and the demands of work in printmaking. Graphic artists are generally methodical and often extremely methodical by preference. They invariably have dirty clothing on the job but cleaning up is always going on, especially as they are constantly warring against dust. Parinya describes some printing tools and the skilled practice of a printmaker at work with his equipment, including the use of many strong chemicals and the preparation of surfaces to be inked or colored. The printing process makes many demands. The printer must be one who enjoys working with patterns and types. Parinya recalls how guests at the Faculty of Painting at Silpakorn had said jestingly that the PSG/SU graphic arts studio must be the world’s cleanest.
The critic closes with a cameo introducing Titapol Suwankusolsong, artist-teacher at the Faculty, a member of the younger generation of printmakers, and expert in silkscreen technique.
‘Titapol’s silkscreen prints are beautifully ordered using line and area as the important principles and the core idea of the forms. Titapol is inspired by architecture’s geometric angles. He creates in fragments, very simple, giving importance to rhythm and relations occurring among various lines and pieces…He is interested in assembling many fragments of forms, bringing them together in a unity.’
Commentary: Before highlighting one of the PSG/SU graphic arts instructors and his work, Parinya gives readers a brief introduction to the character of printmakers and some of the technical demands of printmaking, generally.
7. Parinya Tantisuk. Paintings at Wat Phumintr.
Yr.44, Vol.36 8– 14 February, 1998
. A discussion of some of the traditional
murals at this temple.
8. Parinya Tantisuk. Questions About Career and Work.
Yr.44, Vol.37, 15 – 21 February, 1998.
Parinya tells of a visit from a recent graduate from the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts at Silpakorn University (PSG/SU). A career as an artist is generally regarded as a particularly uncertain road. When the economy is doing so poorly, the choice becomes even more difficult. The young man was serious about art and had made something of his studies, but his steady girlfriend, her parents and siblings – would they be satisfied to have an artist as an in-law? Someone had offered him a position as manager of a jewelry store, a job which was looked upon favorably by all. ‘But it wasn’t [a job] in art, and he might end up giving up the work he loved. He had a lot to think about, and his work was just now beginning to go well. So he came with a heavy heart to weigh his alternatives. Would he manage a jewelry store, or would he go on as an artist?’
There were 4 teachers there that day, talking together, when the young man arrived – Preecha Taothong, Apichai Piromrak, Sakharin Kreu-orn and Parinya himself.
Preecha suggested, ‘Stop being sad about having to give up your work and be happy at having a chance to do work of more than just one kind – is that possible? Create a management system so you can do both – can you?
All the teachers wanted him to continue making art, because he was a very talented artist and had already won competitions at the national level. The chance that he would be an outstanding artist was greater than that he would be an outstanding manager of a jewelry business. As an artist, he had few serious competitors at present.
Apichai said he had seen this happen before: when the artist became serious about a girlfriend, these issues [of satisfying the family’s need for security] often came up.
Artists who marry eventually have to answer their children’s questions about their occupation when forms come home from school to be filled out.
Sakharin had experienced that, too.
Apichai mentioned the example of Chalermchai Kositpipat, who was not famous at first, and who married and had children. But now, Chalermchai is very famous and successful.
So students who face these challenges sometimes come back to talk with their teachers, who wish them well.
Commentary: The difficulties of earning a living and supporting a family as an artist are notorious. When a promising graduate returns to discuss questions of expanding family connections and doubts about his career path, his teachers are sympathetic and encouraging. The intimacy and collegiality among teachers and students at the Faculty of Painting is suggested in this description.
9. Parinya Tantisuk. A New Decade: Art Develops the Country.
Yr.44, Vol.38, 22 – 28 February, 1998.
The 3rd National Visual Arts Studies Seminar at Silpakorn University will be coming up for three days, 4 – 6 March. Toshiba Corporation (Thailand) is sponsoring the meeting.
Parinya is very skeptical about the role of fine art in developing the nation. Everyone – the organizers, artists and teachers of visual arts – know that the nation’s development depends on the strength of all sectors. Can art really do much more to support development than it does now? Parinya suggests that the instruments for bringing art to the people are already notably lacking, and there has been too little coverage of art in the mass media. Perhaps the seminar will be a chance to create better understanding among more sectors, and a ‘search for ways to support each other in helping to make art more useful and still have good quality, creating quality of life, and human resources of good quality for society and the nation.’
In a brief, uncharacteristic outburst, the critic expresses bitter skepticism, presumably aimed more at the nation’s administrative powers than at the general populace: ‘The country cannot survive without good quality population. The quality of the nation depends on this. If the population is lousy, without quality, corrupt and thieving, the nation is screwed. Sunk.’
Parinya cites an artist in England who shocked and offended the public by using the subject of the victim of a horrendous murder in his work of art.
‘Our country still has values,’ he notes, ‘but we can still receive these raw influences. The chances that we could have such an incident are high.
‘It is a good time for everyone to think, review and improve; to seek a way forward for art in the next 10 years. There is more of a trend to make art useful to society. Nonetheless, when getting together to talk, please leave the egos outside.’
Commentary: Parinya has reason to be skeptical and annoyed. The artists and critics of Silpakorn – especially from the Faculty of Painting – have been crying out for at least 20 years, with little response, for better support by the state for the artworld. As his column in the preceding week dramatizes, (Questions about Career and Work. 15 – 21 February), Thai artists still struggle to keep body and soul together and to win acceptance from the general public. What role, then, are they supposed to take in solving the nation’s vast new problems? Having watched, half-heartedly, the launching of the ‘Amazing Thailand” tourism campaign some weeks earlier (Happy New Year and Welcome Amazing Thailand., 11 – 17 January), the critic struggles to master his annoyance in the face of a call for artists to come to the rescue. The reference to a crude and aggressive exhibition by an English artist and the fact that ‘it could easily happen in the artworld here’ seems almost like a veiled threat. Even a kindly, optimistic, and diplomatic critic like Parinya appears driven to desperation at times.
10. Parinya Tantisuk. A New Decade: Art Develops the Country. (continued)
Yr.44, Vol.39, 1 – 7 March, 1998.
Parinya proposes that art expresses ideas, opinions, beauty and feeling, and various views of the society in which the artist lives. Art carries knowledge and beauty, which contributes to the sensitivity, awareness and maturity of mind, from childhood to adulthood, of people who see it.
In the past, when activities at the temple played a larger role in the people’s lives, the art at the temple was part of that way of life. The more art the people saw, the more they received aesthetic pleasure, and their hearts were soothed and polished, both by religion and by art.
As times changed, activities at the temple were no longer at the center. Over a long period of time, the heritage of society, the maturity of mind, the aesthetic quality, the gentleness of morality, which were once so strong, began to fade away. Later, the study of art was reduced. Then there was a lack of formation of the minds and hearts of the people. They began to lack wholeness of being.
They only studied to become rich. Their feelings for beauty and aesthetic quality became weaker and weaker. The country became full of trash. People gradually became hard, cruel, angry and willful, creating problems for society.
Now, when the temple no longer plays a central role, we have contemporary art, which represents the people of this era.
State institutions have the duty to build art museums for communities and to choose good works to show there. This is a service to the people. The people can come to these places to study, to enjoy, and to lift up their minds, to develop their emotions, feelings, and imagination. Developed human resources are important.
Nowadays, tools have evolved and can be better used as media of expression - mass media, for example.
Fine art is pitiful because it still has to travel on foot from city to city, looking for a place to show. Fine art needs TV, radio or internet shows, but programs about contemporary art on television are quite rare, indeed. Galleries are very important, but contemporary art still has no chance to get into people’s lives.
Artists in rural areas bring contemporary art to their home regions. If contemporary artists in each region are strong, their art there will have a distinctive character. Art should not all come from a central source; it should be diversified. Art which is always controlled from a center will weaken and die.
Commentary: Parinya’s essay is his own version of art’s role, with religion, in the nation’s development. For Thai people generally, art was traditionally associated with religion and the temple. As religious activities are no longer one of the central pillars of Thai society, an important realm of aesthetic and moral experience has been lost. The people become hardened and less sensitive. High art, which is the proper art of the new era, does not receive the support due to it. Contemporary Thai art needs to be produced regionally, as well, rather than always emanating from the center [i.e. Bangkok].
Many young Thai high artists are attracted to Buddhist subject matter. Their work may represent a necessary transitional period. They still rely on the ritual motifs of older societies, though they continue to seek new and more relevant symbols to express contemporary spiritual experience.
11. Parinya Tantisuk. Hell Society.
Yr.44, Vol.40, 8 – 14 March, 1998.
The critic reels under the onslaught of bad news which has been coming in all month. Lousy, violent, disastrous news describes a teacher who abused his students and a policeman who gave drugs to young girls and lured them into a living hell. The news reveals how totally screwed society is, marred by murder, rape and other sexual abuses of children. Some say these aberrations have been going on for a long time, but only recently are such things being reported. Parinya doesn’t agree. Things seem to be getting more serious, more dangerous than ever for women and children. Crimes seem to be ever more vicious and abusive.
‘There are many hellish places in society today. It’s really hell. Little children and young girls, countless, are in hell with evil and wicked people.’
Artists cannot escape being affected by all the bad news in the environment.
‘Some make pictures which search for a way out, using beauty as a way of touching the mind and encouraging people in a positive way – pictures about Buddhism, pictures of the forest, of love and goodness. But others bring the evil stories to our eyes to move our emotions and to make us think.’
Parinya confronts readers with paintings of debauchery and brutality. The first is a Thai style picture, Drunkenness, by Chakraphan Rattanachan, and the second, a more contemporary style painting, Mind of Child in Garbage Bin, 2, by Tong Udompol.
The first image is ‘full of vice and ignorance…red drunken faces, collapsed, hairy, dirty bodies, crouching, smoking opium, lifting glasses drunkenly, throwing up. Bottles and glasses are thrown down everywhere. Black, red, white and blue, mingle hellishly together as in a hot bronze frying pan.’
The second image shows a child abandoned in a garbage dump. ‘The child is of no more value than the garbage around it. The artist makes us feel it – we can hear the child’s cry. We feel the child’s feeling as it struggles in fear.’
Commentary: It was a tough close to 1997 for Thailand and a tough beginning in 1998. The critic seems to trudge doggedly on, forcing himself to stare into the dark and horrifying abyss of society at its worst. But hope lies ahead, just around the corner.
12. Parinya Tantisuk. Little Chao Tooei –In the Blue Sky.
Yr.44, Vol.41, 15 - 21 March, 1998.
‘Last week I had a chance to drop by to see an exhibition of children’s art with a very charming name, ‘Little Chao Tooei, in the Blue Sky.’ These works, organized into an exhibition by ATD Fourth World volunteers, funded by UNESCO, and showing at Chao Phraya House on Phra Athit road, were made by children from Bangkok’s extremely poor and marginalized communities. Parinya is encouraged to find children helping each other and being helped, making art together, and expressing their hopes and feelings about their lives and their world.
Commentary: No matter how dark it gets (Hell Society., 8 – 14 March.) Parinya is always looking for some light. And he invariably finds it.
13. Parinya Tantisuk. Could You Not Go With The Flow?
Yr.44, Vol.42, 22 - 28 March, 1998.
Parinya explains the significance of the undergraduate exhibition for the graduating class at the Faculty of Painting (PSG/SU) this year. It is a condition of the BFA curriculum, that their final project will be a study and research for works of art to be shown in a public exhibition. This year, the show is in the National Gallery on Chaofah Rd. because the Silpakorn University Gallery is being renovated.
The critic takes a close look at works by members of the graduating class,
Chatuphum Losiri (Midnight – Light & Shadow, Mind & Heart): ‘Carefully controlled light and shadow and well chosen point of view. A narrow alley in a temple, going deep in…The dim light from a naked bulb helps to give a feeling that something is hidden. I like his use of old techniques which are familiar to create a new flavor.’
Tanaporn Natawanichkul (Pretty Woman): ‘I like that he uses the subject of a fat woman, which is unusual. He doesn’t go with the trend. Beauty is always in people…It depends on us – will we have time and interest or not. Look carefully – see a lot.’
Yuwanah Bunwattanawit (Femininity –the Female Sex): Etchings expressing violent emotion. ‘She knows how to get to the subject that she feels, and she knows how to choose and use materials. For example, the saturation and contrst between red and black, the richness and freshness of the red, just right, and emotion and feeling arising out of the trailing lines and the wakes of the acid which etched the plates.’
Wiranya Duangrat (Atmosphere of Faith); Surayudt Duangjai (Dharma Riddles: Pictures on the Temple Exterior) : A very sensitive and fine artist, the youngest student at 20. Choosing the forms and subjects from mural paintings, and patterns from Lai Kanoke, golden red from the doors and windows create new dimensions which express an atmosphere of faith and feeling in Buddhism…’
and M.L.Saranya Worawudt (Leaving the Field): ‘A silkscreen, expressing the negative feelings in ones heart when being hit by things outside which are unwelcome. One feels painful emotion and feeling, pressure, oppressive feeling, confusion…’
The critic also mentions by name the works of Niramol Hoytakui, Akanit Suksomphumi, Primprapa Tawangpichonsuk, Adirek Lotakul, Anand Rachawangintr and Titikorn Boonyakietr.
As a teacher at the Faculty, Parinya knows many in the graduating class. He offers some statistics: the average age of these graduates is 25. The oldest is 32, the youngest 21. The 23-year olds form the largest group.
Most are from Bangkok or nearby provinces of Nontaburi or Pathum Thani, though every region of the country is represented among them. ‘Some come from places in the Central region, the North, South or Isarn…
‘By age and way of life, there must be some stimulus or something which moves each person to work as he does, in addition to studying and the teaching. Sometimes, the works created testify in a crude way to the attitudes and thoughts of people this age, or to some forceful current. [Those who come from outside of Bangkok] study here and become Bangkokians, or they stubbornly hold to their old roots…Studying here for 5 years, they can hardly avoid receiving some influence. Some are influenced only a bit; some go all the way; and some reject [these urban influences] entirely.
Parinya puts students in these three groups. Some pick and chose what they want from the modern artworld and urban life. They may choose well or badly. Some do not accept city ways and continue to see and conduct themselves as villagers. Some simply go with the flow of modern trends like lifeless debris, carried along in the rushing river. But there are all kinds of people, and all kinds of art. Only express yourself sincerely.
Commentary: The master artist teacher is proud of the graduating class and praises the quality and success of their work to the public. It is probably safe to say that most of his readers will not get to see the show at the National Gallery, but they can enjoy the critics moving and imaginative descriptions of the artworks, little images of which are reproduced in the article.
Parinya describes the curriculum which includes a mandatory final exhibition, and goes on to describe the various types of students he regularly encounters at Kana Jitrakam.* In the art students, their work, and their response to life in Bangkok, we see a microcosm of the many country people who come to live and work in Bangkok. Some uncritically accept every fad and fashion, some embrace only what seems right for them, and some are repulsed by what they see and refuse altogether to adopt the ways of urban society. *Faculty of Painting, SU.
14.Parinya Tantisuk. Same Group. Yr.44, Vol.43, 29 March – 4 April, 1998
Parinya continues his discussion of the social or behavioral groups that art students tend to form, in his experience at the Faculty of Painting at Silpakorn. Some change their dress, following fashion in clothing, hairstyle and adornment, using pagers or cell phones, and taking up current values in society and the artworld. For example, they will make installations or use unusual or non-traditional materials and tools in making their artworks.
Some are ready to take part in city life, but only in part. They take what they want and adapt, but maintain the traditional things that suit them as well.
‘The last group rejects the modern ways in the capital. They may become restless and unhappy. Their greatest happiness is life upcountry, their old ways. Like the others, you can tell from how they dress. They may look like villagers in rubber slippers. They are satisfied with and like the traditional subjects, techniques, processes and means. They work hard and like what they do.
‘From the time I was a student at SU, I saw these 3 groups. They all have their genuine members and their fakes. ‘Fake’ means they have gone astray and are out of place…If it doesn’t come from the heart, it won’t go on long. After a time[the fakes] change their profession.’
Parinya cites the artist, Pong Sengking who left PSG/SU to go and live upcountry. His work was much admired. He urged many art students to return to using traditional tempera color rather than oil or acrylic. He was proud to be ‘country,’ proud to be a villager. He still lives and works in Isarn, as he always has.
Parinya also refers to Montien Boonma, an artist who was interested in the changes in the world and who achieved international status, helping Thai people gain recognition abroad.
Parinya is happy to see many groups in society and in the Thai artworld sincerely following their convictions. In the end, all are parts of a single whole, and the art will represent Thailand [in its diversity].
Commentary: Parinya goes further in clarifying and expanding his observations from the preceding week (Could You Not Go With The Flow? 22 - 28 March, 1998), comparing the different responses of students from the provinces to modern life in the capital city. His descriptions, though he speaks of art students, provide brief sketches of the shaping of young political minds and ideologies, generally. Is this not suggestive of that well-known tension, long familiar in the art and literature of the West, between provincial and urban, farm and city? The critic has described this division as a typical and recurring phenomenon among his students. Stereotypically, country folk are characterized as natural and happily close to nature, honest, friendly, and extremely strong, but also, by the unromantic, as lazy, clumsy, naïve, coarse, illiterate and superstitious. These varied views are not unheard of in Thai society.
City folk are typically depicted, by contrast, as reaping the full benefits of science and industry, educated, refined, and sophisticated. At the same time, however, they are described by those who have had bitter experience in the city as artificial, physically weak, and trapped in a competitive rat-race on the job, shallow in relationships, cunning, dishonest, greedy and selfish.
Such stereotypes inspire many artistic, moral, philosophical and political forms.
15. Parinya Tantisuk. Art and Humanity.
Yr.44, Vol.44, 5 - 11 April, 1998.
Parinya reports on an address by Dr.Chettana Nakwachara on ‘The New Decade: Art and Humanity’ at a national seminar.* The speaker offered 5 points about art in the view of the humanities, i.e.
That art expresses the life experience of all kinds of living things
That art is associated with life
That art can bring both bad and good, but that it is mostly good
That art crosses boundaries of nation, geography and time
That you can teach people to enjoy and appreciate art
In the face of the economic disaster being experienced by Thailand, Dr.Chettana urged that this period could nonetheless be a golden age for art since the illusion of riches and wealth had been stripped away. There should be no confusion between the value of art and its price, he said. A ‘golden age’ would not mean that artists would trade in poor quality copies of their own work, selling by lot, or rushing to produce on demand. Rather, it could be an age of creativity seeing the birth of art which has true value.
Art is useful to all humanity. Art is in us, in our hearts and minds. In searching out and creating works of art, each community, each country has its own traditions. The tradition is the fuel to create further.
Leaders are important in society, leaders who know and understand art. Dr.Chettana cited the 3rd King as a leader who was truly cultured, a king who took from the wisdom of the people to give back to the people. He encouraged scholarship and sharing knowledge with the people. Rather than looking at the price of a work of art, one should look at the impact on the mind of the beholders – do they grow in heart and mind?
Dr.Chettana discussed many issues: the value and price of art, its playful nature, and relations between the various arts. He closed by suggesting that the weakening of the business sector is a golden opportunity for a flowering of arts to flow back into people’s lives.
*(See: A New Decade: Art Develops the Country. 22 – 28 February ; A New Decade: Art Develops the Country. (continued), 1 – 7 March, 1998.)
Commentary: Dr.Chettana’s speech may have stimulated Parinya to express some of his own thoughts on these subjects. He discusses pricing works of art in two consecutive articles, ‘Buy,Buy – Sell, Sell!’ (12 – 18 and 19 – 25 April).
16. Parinya Tantisuk. Buy, Buy, Sell, Sell (1).
Yr.44, Vol.45, 12 - 18 April, 1998.
‘The artist creates the artwork and takes it to show, along with its price. He invites people to come and see the work. Someone may be interested and want to own it. So, buying and selling takes place. The buyer gets what he wants to own, and the artist makes a living and is encouraged to keep on working.’
Parinya introduces readers to the gallery system. At public showrooms, prices are listed. Private galleries handle transactions, which may involve bargaining. The artist has no part in this dealing because the private gallery has already purchased the work. A gallery has a stock of paintings, some newly acquired, some kept for years. When selling, galleries raise the price of paintings several times over their original purchase price, though the artist does not enjoy any of the profit gained. However, galleries must raise prices simply to stay in business.
Artists who have solo shows pay the gallery 20 – 30% on any sales they make. Once again, this practice is understood; the gallery has costs and needs to share in the profits from sales. Some buyers wait till after the show to approach and deal directly with the artist, bargaining to pay only 70%, and asking for a price less the 30% which would have gone to the gallery. By-passed, the gallery loses earnings. Gallery owners in Thailand don’t have a lot to invest. They generally are in the business because they like the field. The business of buying and selling art is difficult to discuss. However, if galleries operated more efficiency, things would go better for everyone.
‘The buyer would feel good. There would be friendship between artist, buyer and gallery. Closeness. Good attitudes, seeing the necessity of buying art with the gallery as a broker.’
The article is illustrated with 6 good-sized reproductions: on the left page, a work of mixed media by Kamol Tasananchali; an illustration by Hem Wechakorn, from a book of Thai ghost stories and a print by Decha Worachun. On the right side are reproductions of an abstract oil painting by Tana Laohakaikul, a woodcut by Chaisak Chaiboon, and an abstract ‘portrait’ sculpture by Chakaphand Wilasinikul.
Commentary: Dr.Chettana Nakwatchara, in a recent address at Silpakorn University,* brought up the issue of price. The critic talks about price in a real context of the financial problems of galleries and the desire of buyers to bargain and get discounts. There is a functioning Thai artworld and a circle of artists, galleries, buyers and collectors. The price and the value of art, which can be discussed as a philosophical or aesthetic issue, is a sensitive matter of economic survival which Parinya has experienced and witnessed in concrete situations.
* (Described in Parinya’s 5-11 April column, entitled: ‘Art and Humanity’)
17. Parinya Tantisuk. Buy, Buy, Sell, Sell (2).
Yr.44, Vol.46, 19 - 25 April, 1998.
‘In the past, when the artists set their prices appropriately, not too expensive, the price was suitable to the value of the work and the qualifications of the artist - an older artist…an artist of the new wave…an artist in his youth. The value of the artwork, its size, the materials used to make it, and other factors such as time. All these factors had to be considered. It is a delicate matter for which firm rules cannot be put down. It depends on these elements and on satisfaction. It is the right of each artist [to price his works]; each thinks for himself.’
Parinya considers the case of an artist who will not lower the price of his work. The work then remains unsold, and is eventually destroyed due to neglect. The artist does not take care of it. This is a controversial issue. Some say the price was too high. The work had an admirer. Perhaps the artist regrets his decision not to sell. Others say it is the right of the artist, his own work. Still, it’s not right to neglect an artwork till it is destroyed.
Pricing artwork is a difficult matter. Most Thai artists are not rich. Sales are uncertain and don’t occur every day. They don’t often show their work. The artwork is not only the physical materials used but the creative ideas and skills, the study and research, the experience and maturity that gives the work its quality and its value.
Generally, the works are priced pretty fairly, and you will find that most Thai artists are not as wealthy as people in many other professions.
‘ Buyers should not make thieves of themselves. The richer, the stingier: the most wretched among us is the one who isn’t starved for money.’
When the price is reasonable and the work affordable, the gallery earns something and the work of art preserved for future generations. The artist earns what he deserves and has working cash to be able to go on working.
Parinya bemoans the ill effects of the bubble economy when new faces in the artworld asked very high prices for their work, and older artists took so many commissions they could not deliver on quality. Since the economic crisis, artists sell their work much more cheaply.
‘This month or next there will be an auction of art belonging to finance and securities companies which have gone bankrupt. The works will be divided in grades because the quality differs. ..It’s a good chance for art lovers to pick up something, if you have a good eye. Those who priced the works did so carefully and clearly.’
The critique is illustrated on the left side with reproductions of two abstract prints, an etching(?) by Ariya Kitticharoenwiwattana and a lithograph by Attasit Aniwantchon. There is also a picture of an oil painting by Suradech Kaewtamai of a little country boy, sitting on a swing with his bicycle nearby, enjoying the first day of school vacation. The left hand side has three images – a monoprint of wild hens by Wira Yotaprasert and two other prints on cloth by Phu Phuwapanskul and Somyodt Hananantsuk.
Commentary: These two articles make a good contrast to the speech by Dr.Chettana Nakwachara (Described in Parinya’s 5-11 April column, entitled: ‘Art and Humanity’) and a useful introduction to the upcoming art auction, a historical event in the Thai artworld. As the Thai economy goes, so goes the Thai artworld.
18. Parinya Tantisuk. Outsider.
Yr.44, Vol.47, 26 April – 2 May, 1998.
Parinya considers the artworld, divided into those who study in institutional art schools and those who gain their foundation outside the institutional system. They sometimes come in ‘to mingle and study the good things in organized studies. They are mixed together, many sorts and kinds of people.’
As with most disciplines, those who work within the system tend to be more numerous, more successful and more famous because they get much more support.
‘There is more equipment to practice and experiment with. There are many skilled and experienced teachers…bringing people along properly, clearly and much more quickly than they would progress on their own.’ And they have many friends, juniors and seniors, who are intellectual resources. Not everyone in the system succeeds. Those outside the system, if they work diligently and overcome obstacles, can bring their work to be accepted as well. There are personal factors as well. Some people outside the system are very well organized. Strength and intensity are also important. Look at Prateuang Emcharoen.
People who graduate from art school have a choice to go on studying in Thailand or abroad. Many become art teachers. Some do freelance work in advertising or interior decoration. Some become copywriters or writers of novels or poetry. It continues to be difficult for artists to work full time in their chosen field. They need other kinds of work opportunities to support themselves. Expenses, investments and earnings are a factor. Some people divide their days in 8-hr segments – first working at art, then working at a job to earn money, then resting.
Some people show the personality and behavior needed to succeed as an artist from the time of their undergraduate studies. They are able to develop themselves. They learn on their own. They have their own discipline. They work quickly, doing quality work at a high level. They live simply. All they think of is that they want to be an artist. Since their need is to grow more deeply, to get deeper into the essence of life, they may do better as independents than with studying on for more degrees. It is better for them to be free of institutional constraints. And they should not be teachers, full time, in the regular system – they are not suited to it. It ruins their gifts, too. It is sad to see a promising artist ruined as he tries to fit into a system to which he is not suited.
Parinya mentions successful freelance artists such as Prateuang Emcharoen, Sompong Adulsarnpan, Prasong Leumuang and Pornchai Jaimah. They have discipline and focus and are happy with each day as they work.
On the left page is a picture of Prateuang Emcharoen at work and a reproduction of one of his oil paintings, Samadhi. On the right-hand page are pictures of three other independent artists and their works – Sompong Adulsarnpan and his surrealist work, ‘dream at the edge of the sea;’ Prasong Leumuang and his tempera painting on paper, ‘peaceful shade;’ and Pornchai Jaimah with his large tempera painting, ‘propping up a Po tree.’
Commentary: The theme of ‘outsiders’ contrasts with the institutional artworld which dominates the high art scene in Thailand. It gives another dimension to the description of some of the types of individuals who make up the artworld in his experience (Could You Not Go With The Flow? 22 - 28 March, and Same Group. 29 March – 4 April).
19. Parinya Tantisuk. Northern Artists: Tawatchai Somkong and Alongkorn Lorwattana. Yr.44, Vol.48, 3 - 9 May, 1998.
‘Wisawaparti Sarntinikatan. I know these words (says Parinya). The name of an arts university in India of an old age and long history. Once, Fua Haripitak, a very revered person in fine arts circles in Thailand, used to study art there. From the society and environment, surrounded by and saturated with ancient culture, he was inspired to return and work to preserve and study Thai art deeply and sincerely.’
Parinya tells the history of this fine old Indian center of learning, founded by Rapinnatr Takore, the great poet, and located about 90 miles from the city of Calcutta.
Two Thai artists who studied at this school now have a show at the National Gallery. Tawatchai was born in Maehongsorn; Alongkorn comes from Nan. Both studied at the Payap campus of the Rachamongkol Institute of Technology in Chiengmai. Tawatchai also studied at what is now Burapa University. He has been showing his work since 1984. Alongkorn studied at the Faculty of Painting at Silpakorn. He began showing as a student and won some top awards. Alongkorn was among the group of young Thai artists, including Chalermchai Kositpipat and Panya Wijintanasarn who painted the murals at Wat Pratheeb in London.
Northern Thai artists area close, tightly knit group. They regularly have work to show. They have received creative work from their forebears and have their own, active artworld. Their environment encourages both fine art and craft in temple, palace and local folk art. The Faculty of Fine Art in Chiengmai is very strong, as is the staff at Payap. Northern artists tend to prefer artistic expression with is delicate and fine, as in the traditional art of the North. They invest in details of beautiful linear design. It is a special characteristic which marks the work of Chalermchai Kositpipat, Thongchai Srisukprasert and Prayom Yoddee as well.
In this show at the National Gallery, Thawatchai’s work is symbolic and rather abstract, reminiscent of faith and ceremony, worship, offerings, the act of dying, extinction and meeting anew, souls. His color is good, fresh and contrasting, creating interesting surfaces. Alongkorn uses only white, grey and black. He creates new symbolic images of Phra Pikanete, the god of art. Both artists take satisfaction in linear pattern, design and detail, though the works show two quite different personalities.
‘A great deal of time is needed with quantities of fine detail. The artist must have the heart, the patience and the determination to do it. But fine detail must relate to form and structure, must fit with it, emphasize and make it outstanding. From a distance, the structure must have power to pull people closer, and to elicit admiration and satisfaction in the fine detail as the viewer gets closer. You see the generosity, concentration, determination and effort, which gives the work a high value. But if the form is not good enough and doesn’t hold its place firmly, it’s a shame. All that effort – it’s sad, if the form doesn’t succeed.’
Both artists are pictured in the article, Thawatchai on the left page and Alongkorn on the right. Images of 3 acrylic paintings by Thawatchai are lined up under his photo. There are two photos of the gallery where the artworks have been installed, one on the left page (with a view of Alongkorn’s Phra Pikanete works) and one on the right
( showing Thawatchai’s work in the process of being hung). Under Alongkorn’s picture are 3 large images of his Ganesha acrylic paintings.
Commentary: Parinya’s article is a brief, but very intriguing introduction which points to contemporary ties between Indian and Thai art institutions. His writing also hints at the northern pole of the Thai artworld in Chiengmai and the regional camaraderie of Northern Thai artists. Reviewing and analyzing the works in the show, Parinya concludes the article on a negative note. The reproductions of the pictures of Ganesh which illustrate the review seem problematic, matching the negative comments at the close of the critique.
20. Parinya Tantisuk. Bright Sun, Clear Sky .
Yr.44, Vol.49, 10 - 16 May, 1998.
At the top of the page, beside the boldly printed title of the article, is a full face portrait, taken in bright sunshine, of the artist, Somsak Chaotadapongse, with a hearty expression on his face, as if he is just about to make a comment. Behind him, palm fronds spread like rays of the sun or strokes in an abstract painting. Below him spreads a large reproduction of a picture one of his paintings in oil and acrylics, Space Power. On the right-hand page are two more reproductions – The River and Infinite Space - abstract works with wide open spaces and large, dashing brushstrokes.
In a hot season like this, says the critic, the body may get hot, but our tempers should not get hot as well. ‘Sweating with the heat isn’t so bad, but impatience makes everything much worse.’
This summer, the sun is fiercely hot and the skies are clear. If you look around, things aren’t really so terribly bad, even in an economy like this. You can still enjoy nature, like the fine rose-apple trees along the road at Buddha-Monton. Each tree produces pink flowers to contrast in the bright sunlight with the garden greens. When the sky is clear, the wind still blows, cooling off the heat.
‘In a hot season like this, I’d like to bring some lovely paintings for my readers to cool your feeling. You can say about these works that they cool the eye and soothe the heart. These beautiful paintings are not the artist’s new work, but as they say, good works of art are good at any time…you can look at them over and over again…This set is from works he submitted to show at an exhibition of painting and sculpture to celebrate 50 years of the National Bank of Thailand many years ago. In these works, color is the central element, pulling us in to meet and receive the forms of color in sizes arising out of the traces, drips, patches and brushstrokes. The artist is quite expert in the colors he chooses…
‘The colors feel soft, sweet and profound, not pretty and stretched. They call it ‘distilled well’.
‘The picture Space Power covers a large area with light blue, a mass of intense blue. It floats above. On the left are free forms created from brush strokes, forms of varied size, bringing colors moving in. In each area of free form created by brushstroke or patch of color, color is created inside which is soft and harmonious.
‘You can see clearly that the artist gives special importance to organizing space or open areas, or space treated as content, important information that the artist expresses this way, perhaps because he has been influenced by Chinese landscapes and is interested in Buddhist philosophy and teaching – especially the matters of emptiness and no-self.
‘These 3 works are very easy on the eye. You look at them and you feel happy.’
As a young art student, Parinya admits he preferred the works of Tawan Dachinee or surrealists like Kiettisak Chanonarodt. Even so, the works of Somsak caught his attention even then, especially the wonderful use of color in free form.
Parinya closes with an update on the artist’s biodata. Somsak is presently rector of Chang Silpa College (Department of FineArts) in Nakorn Srithammarat. He shows regularly every year, usually in group exhibitions and faculty shows at the college.
Commentary: The critic’s presentation is so calm and welcoming, the reader is led happily out of the blistering summer heat into the delightfully vast, cool color spaces of Somsak’s abstractions. Parinya persuasively describes the abstracts works as a soothing refuge of quiet emptiness. With Parinya as their guide, pointing to visible pleasures smeared across painted canvasses, readers find out that they need not fear very abstract art. This is very successful criticism, bringing readers into possession of an understanding of a dimension of their own culture which might otherwise have been inaccessible to them.
21. Parinya Tantisuk. Summer Pictures.
Yr.44, Vol.50, 17 - 23 May, 1998.
‘I’d like to beat the heat one more time by bringing some lovely pictures for you - fresh clear color in another set of works.
The article is illustrated with 4 large images, probably taken from books or catalogs: on the left – hand page, a reproduction of a picture of Sannarong Singhaseni’s Last Summer and Thaiwijit Peungkasemsomboon’s ‘under an indigo sky’; and on the right, Charun Boonsuan’s ‘color in the landscape 8’ and Sirwan Jenhuttahakarnkit’s ‘paying respect to the sea.’
‘The first is a watercolor entitled Last Summer, by Sannarong Singhaseni, a picture dominated by pinks and reds, all over the picture plane. The artist uses brushstrokes as his main principle of expression. The picture vibrates with color spots of various sizes. Greens mute the color with white paper showing through and holding things together, plus yellow, orange, light green and blue, joining and integrating things, creating harmony in the picture.
‘This picture stirs feeling very well of the atmosphere of summer like this. I believe that many have experienced and felt the sun so bright and hot, the sky so clear, sparkling bright and blue above field and forest, till the flowers show their own bright colors.
‘The artist has an optimistic view of the world; Sannarong’s work is hedonistic. Free forms from sources in nature and landscapes are his primary subjects, using very fresh, clean color.
‘The second picture is Color in a Landscape by Charun Boonsuan… I once visited the artist in his home. I saw a large umbrella opened in the shade of a tree in the heat of the mid-day. He was all ready with his equipment for painting…surrounded by his subjects, trees, flowers of all kinds, Bird of Paradise, Bougainvillea, so bright in color.
The third picture, by Tiawijit Peungkasemsomboon, was top prize- winner in the 1984 Contemporary Art Show sponsored by Thai Farmers Bank.
‘The work is abstract. It uses empty space and lines as the essentials. The space is divided in two parts. The top represents the sky. The gradations of color is most intense at the furthest edge. The bottom half of the picture is the beach, cream colored and light-weight. The feeling is bright, the beach sun-bright…this artist is another optimist who likes music and dresses casually.
‘The last work I’ll show you this time is a painting in mixed technique by Siriwan Jenhattkarnkit, ‘paying respect to the sea.’ The artist collects things when she goes on holiday and uses them in her work when she returns home…She uses handmade paper as the background frame.
‘These works of art with such nice color all come from 1992 or before. It’s not easy to find something pretty that is truly artistic [and gaily colorful] after that. Artists seem not to have been much in the mood.’
Commentary: It is a rare gift to be able to write about abstract art in a way that is so pleasant for readers. The critic provides excellent PR for these abstract paintings by Thai artists who are well known and much respected in high art circles.
22. Parinya Tantisuk. Soul From the Desert.
Yr.44, Vol.51, 24 - 30 May, 1998.
Parinya reviews an exhibition of mixed paintings entitled ‘Midbar’ (desert) by an Israeli artist, Devora Weisz, at the Gallery of Art and Design at the Decorative Arts Faculty at Silpakorn University. The solo show is part of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the modern state of Israel.
Parinya quotes the words of Prince Karwik Chakrabandhu in the catalog which speak of the tense, awesome enormity of the desert, uncertain in boundaries, baking hot in the day, freezing cold at night, but intimate and kind to those who respect it as a teacher.
A picture of the artist in a pensive attitude is surrounded by 4 images of some of her austere but evocative symbolic works (Desert Promise, Desert Wedding, Desert Sacrifice and Desert Aura) on the left page of the critique. Another 5 works ( Desert Presence, Desert Covenant, Desert Omen, the Sanctuary and Desert Courage) are reproduced to illustrate the article on the right hand page.
Weisz says of her work, ‘I did not choose art. Art is within me. My work is my prayer, my guide and my praise.’
Commentary: Cultural exchange is an attempt to keep alive lines of mutual respect and sympathy. Thai readers might feel in these reproductions and in the description of the works in the show a breath of some contemporary Israeli experience.
23. Parinya Tantisuk. Books.
Yr.44, Vol.52, 31 May – 6 June, 1998.
“Books” is the name of an art exhibition by one group of progressive young artists. The show is unusual for being located in the old printing house of the Teacher Education Department, a large building in the middle of the community near the Sumeru stockade near the Banglamphu Canal in Pranakorn district.
The building is made of wood and concrete and stands on the corner near the entrance to Wat Sangwetch Wisyaram Worawiharn. More or less abandoned and utterly neglected for many years, the place became piled with trash and scary from being used by addicts to shoot up and homeless people. There are countless niches and corners.
The left-hand page of the article has a large photo of Surasi Kusolwong chatting with friends inside the semi-darkened premises. There is a picture of part of the building’s exterior, and two small views of the interior. On the right hand pge are 5 photos, two views of Chakaphand Welasinikul’s ‘classroom’ installation, and three of Yanwit Khunjaethong’s installation, including a view of Yanwit taking a photo and his lady colleague lightly stepping away in the background.
Last month, a group of artists came, cleaned up the premises and created some site-specific artworks there, changing the atmosphere from negative to more positive and creative, recalling things of value in society and history, a place which could be useful to the Pranakorn community.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration supported the project, in part. Art teachers from many institutions joined in the effort. Chakaphand Wilasinikul had an important role in liaison to make the exhibition happen.
There are old sites like this all over Bangkok, sites which represent valuable art and culture, which could be recovered. These places could offer a refreshing respite to city dwellers. The state or the private sector could earn some income from the historical value of such buildings, but Bangkok has become a slum of buildings. These artists have shown how architectural and community values can be reclaimed, while advancing their own thinking and researching in making new works of art. Many joined the project and were inspired by the story and by the old Krusapha Printing House. Parinya mentions the works of Yanwit Kunchaethong whose installation, playing upon the history and background of the site, covered virtually the entire floor area. Surasi Kusolwong helped clean the place and then hung a hammock and provided some chairs for visitors who might want to sit down. Another artist, Chakaphand Welasinikul, in a romantic emotion, set up some tables and chairs such as students used 30 or 40 years ago. Perhaps more such projects will take place, projects in which artists have a part and there is benefit to society and to communities. Such things are investments in the soul and bring good things to life.
Commentary: It is a well known story, how the architectural history of cities, the beautiful old buildings, are razed and replaced by more mundane and banal structures.
After chasing out the homeless and the addicts who must have worried the other residents in the area, the renovators turn the building into an art installation site. So many needs and values, jostling for limited goods and survival space.
24. Parinya Tantisuk. Art Auction bor-ror-sor (ปรส).
Yr.45, Vol.1, 7 - 13 June, 1998.
Between 10 – 14 June, the bor-ror-sor will hold an art auction on behalf of 56 finance companies at the Sirikit National Convention Center. There are about 440 fine artworks of very high value and about 119 works which can be called masterpieces of senior Thai artists. Bidding for these works will begin at 300,000 baht. Bidding on another set of works will begin at 100,000 baht, and on others at 10,000 baht. There are about 600 works made for decorative purposes, as ritual objects or as collector’s items. The news about the auction is optimistic. Scores of people have already stated their intention to take part and a catalog has been compiled. The target for fundraising by the auction is around 30 million baht.
The bor-ror-sor has appointed a sub-committee, headed by Prof. Chalud Nimsamur to consider the property and to give a median price estimate. The sub-committee will set the manner of bidding as well. The Foundation and Gallery of the 9th Reign and Christies International Auction House are also lending a hand. This is an opportunity to disseminate knowledge about art and to introduce Thai art to the world.
Pishnu Supanimitr is a member of the sub-committee. He said that the assessment of median prices went according to the artistic merit of each work. The seniority of the artist was also considered, and how active the artist was, how sincere and how well-respected. If the artist had passed away already, this was another factor in the assessment.
The works will all be on show on 10 June. Fine art will be on display in the ballroom of the Sirikit Center; general works will be seen in the A2 hall.
The fine art auction will take place on June 13-14. Only 400 people will be allowed to be present. Seating is limited to participants and their guests. Everyone coming in must register in advance. General works will be auctioned on 12 – 14 June with 5 lots per day. People entering the auction rooms must place a deposit ahead of time for 50,000, 30,000 or10,000 baht, depending on the lot they want to bid for. The bor-ror-sor will return the money by 15-19 June.
The catalog for the 400 more expensive works to be auctioned is on sale for 250 bht per copy at the Sirikit Center.
A lithograph by HRH Somdej Prathep which once brought more than 300,000 baht will probably not fetch such a price this time. An oil painting by Tavi Nandakwang, the late master Thai artist was bought and sold for millions. In this auction, however, the median price is between 200,000 and 300,000 baht. Some artists might be unhappy that the median price set on their works seems rather low. However, this is simply the starting point of the bidding. The organizers expect the prices to go much higher.
The auction may be criticized and will surely be scrutinized from many angles. For example, a number of works seem to have been improperly labeled or identified. The critic hopes that by the time the audit actually begins, any such oversights will have been corrected.
The article is illustrated with many small reproductions including works in varied media by Tavi Nandakwang, Somdej Prathep, Sawasdi Tantisuk, Chalud Nimsamur, Prateuang Emcharoen, Prayoon Uluchata and Kamol Tasananchali.
Commentary: Because the bankrupt finance and securities companies invested in art, there is this substantial collection of artworks ready to change hands, change ownership. A sub-committee of senior members of the local artworld are on hand to help set the prices at which to begin bidding. This is surely some sort of historical watermark for the high art world in Thailand.
25. Parinya Tantisuk. Art Auction bor-ror-sor (ปรส).
Yr.45, Vol.2,14 - 20 June, 1998.
‘The auction of fine art on 13 – 14 June was full to capacity at 400 persons. The results of the auction in a day or two will have many repercussions in the Thai artworld, especially in terms of the value and the prices, bought and sold, of each piece by each artist. There will be things that people accept and do not accept…especially in terms of value vs. price…
‘But if you think that what has happened here is not something normal, that it is one way of finding money for the state. Works of art and artists have a role in finding income to help the nation. If you look at it this way, as a principle, you can let go of conflicted feelings and accept what has happened.’ (my italics. JMW)
The price is not normal because the economy has fallen so drastically. The median prices are not normal. They have been set rather low to entice buyers, but there is a hope that the final prices on artworks sold will be high enough. The target earnings from the auction of 30 million baht was to be devoted to solving the economic crisis.
In setting prices, the committee considered factors concerning the artist – history of exhibitions, regular output, sincere creativity, record as ground-breaker and trend-setter. Time constraints are also a factor.
‘Some pieces will seem [priced] just right; others will look higher [than correct] – that is my observation. I may be wrong – I’m just observing here. But I want to say again that generally, the prices are lower than usual. It’s a very good opportunity for art lovers and collectors to pick up some good works.’
Parinya notes that the starting price on a portrait bust of Professor Silpa Bhirasri by Sanan Silakorn is set at a mere 5,000 baht, which is less than it cost to cast the piece and which doesn’t seem to consider historical or artistic merits of artist or subject.
The critic also expresses some doubt about the identification of works in the catalog which are totally uncharacteristic of the artist to whom they are attributed. The prices of some works by the same artist differ by half, though they are of similar size, materials, technique and quality. This is questionable, as well.
Works sold in the ‘general’ category are mostly copies of works of fine art. If they don’t copy directly, they clearly copy style and technique so that it is obvious who they are imitating. Some of these copies were certainly over-priced, in the critic’s view. In any case, the auction is a good chance for art lovers and collectors to buy or to learn something about art which is normally behind the scenes at regular exhibitions.
There are 6 fairly big illustrations in this column. On the left-hand page, from top to bottom, a work of mixed technique by Chavalit Sermpreungsuk 48 x 63 cm, beginning at 10,000 bht; A woodblock print of Assisi by Preecha Taothong, 50 x69 cm, beginning at 20,000 bht; and a woodblock print by Tavorn Ko-udomwit, 72 x 54 cm, beginning at 10,000 bht. On the right-hand page, an acrylic painting by Chalermchai Kositpipat, 88 x 62 cm., beginning at 30,000 baht; a watercolor by Somsak Chaotadapongse, 51 x 36 cm, beginning at 10,000 baht; and an acrylic painting, 93 x 203 cm by Suradech Kaewtamai, beginning at 20,000 baht.
Commentary: Note that the critic acknowledges that the sale of assets of the bankrupt private firms will go to the state, which is handling the ‘bail-out.’ [see italics] The massive foreign debts amassed by companies in the private sector are being shouldered by the state [read: taxpayers]. For Parinya, patriotic artists will be ready to sacrifice some personal gain to help the nation recover.
26. Parinya Tantisuk. Thai Art Exhibition 2540 - And Don’t / Please Don’t Misunderstand. Yr.45, Vol.3, 21 - 27 June, 1998.
‘The Thai Art 2540 Exhibition is a show by students of the Thai Art studies department at the gallery of the Faculty of Painting, Silpakorn University. (PSG/SU) The group includes Krisana Wannakul, Jirapong Sornakorn, Pachaya Yuktanan, Porprasert Yamasaki, Panupong Churarun, Wasan Petchkul, Suwicha Dusadiwanich, Sakol Suthinal and Anchali Taenmani. The works showing are selected form the past academic year’s work. They are doing this show the disseminate knowledge and to practice and get experience in having an exhibition, valuable experience for the future.
‘The work of each individual comes from his or her interpretation of each assignment which the acharns assigned in their program. Each program lasts about one month. The students have to research and study, to make sketches, drafts, models, and to be checked step by step by the committee, till the real work is finished and assessed at last.’
Parinya looks briefly at the works of several members of the group, and the article is illustrated with 8 photos of teachers and students at the faculty coming to see the show and talk with each artist about their work. However, the critic lingers at length, in closing, over the show by Suwicha Dusadiwanich, with Takol Kaosard, at the About Studio / About Café. ‘And Don’t / Please Don’t Misunderstand’ contains some of Suwicha’s startling and possibly chilling images. The critic hastens to lend his support in urging that no one misunderstands the young artist’s intent.
‘There used to be some stories years back about some high school students who sliced up the works of Tawan Dachinee in the exhibition hall of the Christian Student Center. It was front page news. His works were accused of destroying Buddhism because the artist had some heads of the Buddha and some details of Buddhist architecture – chapels, viharn, chedi, bell towers - and naked women. The artist was describing (he explained) the conflict between two worlds – Lokiya and Lokutra. His aim was to reveal the evil in religion nowadays, but the result was a violent backlash.
‘Suwicha herself uses familiar images in Thai belief…and combines them with mass produced items like beds and bathtubs…Her choice of forms resembles older generations of artists, i.e. taking forms holy to Thai people and combining them with other forms.
‘Superficially understood, one might feel bizarre, seeing the Buddha’s footprint in the midst of household appliances. Some people might be extremely angry and dissatisfied [by this]…The artist does not intend to insult at all…the bed for resting…the bath for cleaning…These appliances have their normal function, but they also become ways for the soul to be rested and refreshed as well. Is it true or not? Please consider.’
Commentary: The press regularly preserves traces of contemporary Thai artists who cannot resist laying a hand on traditional religious symbols and pulling them into a high art context for their own expressive purposes. It is a dangerous exercise. As a sympathetic fellow (though senior to them) artist and teacher of these students, Parinya steps forward in SilpaWattanatham to say a good word on behalf of a risky exhibition by one of his protégés.
27. Parinya Tantisuk. The Pretty Colors and Rhythms of Thaiwijit.
Yr.45, Vol.4, 28 June – 4 July, 1998.
Thaiwijit Peungkasemsomboon is 39 years old, born in 1959. He made a name for himself doing graphic art. Later he turned to painting and mixed media in three dimensions.
‘The works of Thaiwijit are abstract. One doesn’t see them as pictures of anything in particular. But there is a lot to see in terms of feeling, as artists who work in this idiom tend to primarily aim for.’
Parinya explains that the artist finds subjects of interest in the environment, but in expressing his meaning, virtually everything else is pared away.
‘Nothing is left but what he likes and is good at, interested in…i.e. color and rhythm. Thaiwijit has been good at rhythm since forever. His work, Under an Indigo Sky, which won honors in the Thai Farmers Bank sponsored Contemporary Art Show in 1984 …shows clearly how skilled he is in setting a rhythm, in arranging spaces and colors.’
Parinya describes the personality and character of the artist as very laid back and relaxed, consonant with his works which tend to look ‘very clean, easy on the eye, free.’
Thaiwijit also uses color very well, especially contrasting colors.
‘And there is development with color going on all the time, especially in later graphic work. There, the change is particularly clear. Though the colors still contrast as before, they are more in harmony.
‘At first, Thaiwijit liked violently and delightfully contrasting color, especialling in his paintings, with brushstrokes or fingers (I’m guessing), as in Rhythm of Color, with blue colors.
‘Looking at his later graphic work, besides controlling rhythm in the size of planes and colors relating together [there is] greater harmony in the work and choice of color, contrasting but special – more ingenious than in his painting.’
The critic admits to preferring the graphic works to the oil painting.
‘In the new set of works using planes, the color is in big squares and small, showing his expertise in supporting free-floating forms. Everything seems to be in its place. Having this structure gives this set of works their particular crisp completeness.’
Parinya admires Thaiwijit’s penchant for experimenting and trying new things, moving from graphic art to painting with oils and acrylics, and experimenting with three dimensions.
‘I think everyone – or almost everyone – will feel good when they see this set. Thaiwijit opens a fresh world for us to feel in this very dry period. …a refreshing draft that revives us energetically, giving hope and courage, and reminding us that all is never lost. There is still something beautiful, something good to admire. The good and the beautiful remain in themselves always, if we don’t overlook them…’
Parinya’s article has 7 large reproductions of pictures of Thaiwijit’s paintings and graphic works, and a picture of the artist in his studio, playfully masking himself for the photographer.
Commentary: Abstract art has sometimes been categorized by some local critics as ‘that unintelligible art’. By contrast, Parinya has a persuasive and convincing style of describing abstract paintings and graphic art in a way that makes them seem immediately accessible. He coaxes the timid and unbelieving, leading readers to accept and even delight in a kind of art which is too often understood to be, by nature, intelligible only to a chosen few.
28. Parinya Tantisuk. Senior Thai Artists in Japan.
Yr.45, Vol.5, 5 - 11 July, 1998.
On the 25th anniversary of its founding, the Japanese Cultural Center of Bangkok, in cooperation with the Faculty of Painting at Silpakorn University (PSG/SU), has arranged for an exhibition on senior Thai artists who have studied and worked in Japan.
The exhibition honors 6 artists: Prakit (Jitr) Buabutr; Chalerm Nakirak; Sawasdi Tantisuk; Prayoon Uluchata; Damrong Wonguparat and Prapan Srisuta. Asst.Prof. Somporn Rodboon is the curator who arranged the exhibition, with Suda Okata as liaison.
Many of the works on show were made between 30 and 50 years ago, but there is also some more recent work, made within the past couple of years. Some are works kept by the artists themselves; some come from the collections of private collectors.
Each of these well-known and respected senior artists has fascinating stories to tell of their experiences working and studying in Japan.
Prakit (Jitr) Buabutr studied in France before he got a scholarship from the Ministry of Education to study in Japan. When he entered the MFA program at Tokyo Fine Arts Academy in 1941, Impressionism was having a big role in Japan’s modern artworld. Prakit stayed in Japan through the war years. Many of his paintings were destroyed in the bombings, but his work, Rain Near the Chinjuku Dormitory, Tokyo, from 1942, still survives.
Chalerm Nakirak first visited Japan in 1958 on a scholarship from the International Labor Organization. He visited many cities – Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Sendai, Hakone, Nikko and Nagoya, recording with his paintings the many beautiful places he saw. He still keeps in good condition one of the watercolor paintings he made there 40 years ago, Rain in Nikko.
Sawasdi Tantisuk first went to Japan in 1952 on a Jumpote Phanthip grant for a study tour. He went only to paint, staying for a month and a half, and bringing back about 30 paintings in oil and watercolor. He gave a solo exhibition of those paintings at the Princess Hotel. He later returned in 1962 to see the country and to make pictures for another two weeks.
Prayoon Uluchata visited Japan for one month with a tour group in 1983. Though he had little time for painting on his tour, his charming Landscape Behind the Imperial Hotel is lively and full of fun, recalling his happy mood during that trip.
Damrong Wonguparat received a scholarship to study and do research from the Japan Foundation in 1976-77 for a year. He chose to go to Kyoto, an ancient city with many temples, an ancient source of art and culture in a beautiful natural setting. In this peaceful and inspiring environment, he did many good works of art, for example, House of Japanese Farmer, and Rock Garden.
Prapan Srisuta visited Japan in 1964. He studied woodcuts with many Japanese artists and was impressed with the woodcut tradition. Prapan likes to make black and white woodcuts with rural life subjects, for example, children playing or the daily labor of country people. A number of his graphics are showing in this exhibition.
The 6 artists being honored are pictured, 3 on the left, 3 on the right-hand page, with two thumbnail reproductions of pictures of each artist’s work under his photo.
Commentary: It is remarkable to think that a Thai artist was in Japan throughout World War II. Parinya reviews some of this history of artistic exchange for his readers.
29. Parinya Tantisuk. The Flock of Sheep of Menashe Kadishman.
Yr.45, Vol.6, 12 - 18 July, 1998.
Menashe Kadisman is a senior, leading Israeli artist showing at the National Gallery. The exhibition comes through the cooperation of the Israeli embassy and the Fine Arts Department as part of the anniversary celebrations of Israel’s independence and statehood. “Flock of Sheep” combines painting, sculpture and other media, including a videotape of the process of making the work and images of the environment of Israel – fields of pastures, graveyards full of tombs.
“Flock of Sheep” represents victims - young Israelis who must take up weapons and die, countless youth, in wars for territory. The life of each youth is compared to a lamb, sacrificed. The artist asks for justice for the weak who are destroyed by the cruel violence of war, and by the selfishness, irresponsibility, injustice and unjust laws and rules.
The Israeli artist looks out at the reader from the top of the left-hand page. Beneath him on the page are 5 reproductions of pictures of a sculpture (Sacrifice of Isaac, The Mourning Women, 1982 – 1984) and an installation (The Herd). On the right-hand side are 6 details of the various individual ‘lambs’ in The Herd.
Commentary: This is the second exhibition in Bangkok this year in honor of Israeli celebrations of independence and statehood. The first was in May at the gallery of the Faculty of Painting, Silpakorn University, by the Israeli artist, Devora Weisz with her show of mixed paintings, Soul From the Desert.
30. Parinya Tantisuk. Discussions among Senior Artists (1).
Yr.45, Vol.7, 19 - 25 July, 1998.
On the afternoon of July 4, Silpakorn University and the Japan Foundation in Bangkok organized a discussion with 4 senior artists – Prakit (Jitr) Buabutr, Sawasdi Tantisuk, Damrong Wong-uparat and Prapan Srisuta. The two other senior artists, Chalerm Nakirak and Prayoon Uluchata, were unable to attend for reasons of health. The discussion was moderated by Asst.Prof. Somporn Rodboon, the curator for the ‘Senior Thai Artists in Japan’ show.
Somporn called upon each artist, in order of seniority, to tell of his experience and his impressions of Japan.
The first to speak was Prakit (Jitr) Buabutr, who was 87 years old. He spoke with enthusiasm and was very lively. When he came to Japan, Field Marshal Plaeck Pibulsongkram was in power. The artist was 29 years old, and it was his first trip abroad. The trip by boat took 22 days. The young artist was seasick for almost the entire voyage. Parinya relates the story told by the elderly artist that day, and also of the remarks of Sawasdi Tantisuk, who visited Japan twice, the third time with Khien Yimsiri and Chalud Nimsamur. Sawasdi found Japan very modern, indeed, the most modern in Asia, especially in education.
The two statements recorded by Parinya are illustrated on the left-hand side with reproductions of 2 pictures by Prakit (Jitr) Buabutr. On the right-hand side are two reproductions of pictures of paintings by Sawasdi Tantisuk.
Commentary: Taking advantage of the initiatives of the Japan Foundation, Parinya acts as a biographer of these distinguished artists, sharing their stories with readers all over Thailand.
31. Parinya Tantisuk. Discussions among Senior Artists (2).
Yr.45, Vol.8, 26 July – 1 August, 1998.
After studying in Europe and America, Damrong Wong-uparat found inspiration in Eastern art. The artist was the recipient of many scholarships and grants, eventually going to live and research in Japan on a fellowship from the Japan Foundation. One day per week, he studied aesthetics and criticism with two Japanese teachers at Kyoto University. On other days, he did his own research. Living in Japan, he rented a house in a peaceful suburb of Kyoto. He decided his work must have fore of an Eastern soul. He found the little Shinto shrines very moving. The Japanese are systematic, disciplined, enduring and aesthetic. Damwrong also learned from his son to use cheap and simple materials and tools. Quoting his own teacher, Damwrong said, ‘Being an artist is not an occupation, but it is a kind of ideal.’
The 4th speaker was Prapan Srisuta. He was the only one in the group who traveled to Japan for his own adventure, rather than with an organized group or with institutional funding. Prapan earned money for travel after a foreigner arranged a show for him in Malaysia, where he sold many prints. He spent three months in Manila, then headed home by way of Hong Kong and Japan. In Japan, he stayed at youth hostels but was lucky to meet a priest who had been to Thailand and liked art; he offered the young artist lodging in the temple. For about 4 months altogether, Prapan was able to visit many cities, including Kyoto and Nara, and travel around the suburbs of Tokyo. He was impressed with the cooperation among Japanese artists, who cooperated to buy land for their artist’s association.
The article is illustrated, on the left page, with reproductions of 2 pictures by Damrong – a pen and pencil drawing / watercolor on paper of a rock garden, and a tempera on canvas of springtime. On the right-hand page are two pictures of Prapan’s woodcuts and one of a woodcut print by Saito Kiyoshi, a popular contemporary Japanese graphic artist.
Commentary: These accounts give insightful inside views of the good experiences in Japan, of some Thai artists who were, or who later became influential figures in the Thai artworld.
32. Parinya Tantisuk. Print from Graphic Art Classes – 2540 Academic Year..
Yr.45, Vol.9, 2 - 8 August, 1998.
The exhibition is being set up at the gallery of the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Art, Silpakorn University (PSG/SU), Wang Tha Phra.
Parinya explains that this student exhibition is, in many aspects, a bit unusual. The works are interesting, stimulating and of good quality, and the objective of the show, including the catalog, come together in an overall unity. All this is due to the clarity and care for detail of the teachers and students in the graphic arts department.
Yanwit Kunjaethong and Surasi Kusolwong are the head and deputy head of the department. They set the theme for the presentation, the catalog and the posters for the show. This contributed to the overall aesthetic quality of the exhibition and is very helpful to viewers in understanding and enjoying the show.
‘These two teachers are young artists who are very diligent. They show their own work in groups and in solo shows regularly. Both create bigger works which are site-related, as in the Krusapha Printing House show (see: Books. 31 May – 6 June). Another characteristic which both seem to have is caring sensitively for beauty and having a complete grasp of the whole.’
Parinya emphasizes the importance of care for beauty and for all aspects of the whole as a factor which helps bring success in making artworks. He is not talking about precise skills, but about living and planning step by step, about choices made, about expression and the presentation of ideas. Always keeping in mind the beauty and unity of the whole gives a good chance of eventual success.
The critic leads us through the exhibition room by room, beginning at the front foyer.
‘We see and feel the unity when coming to see the show. From the glass door of the gallery, you can see into and encounter a large, bright red panel passing through the inner stages of the showroom. On the bright red ground, you see the letters Print From Graphic Arts Classes, white, clean and clear, attracting us and arousing our interest, pulling us in and calling passers by to enter. Passing through the doors, the two walls in the first area are…very gay with works put up on the left and right.’
The first room on the right presents engraved images of the 5th King. The teachers and students obtained permission to retrieve an old plate created by Pinit Pantaprawat, a skilled craftsman from the printing house of the Bank of Thailand. With 4 full months of preparations, the plate was used again to print very fine, lovely images of the 5th King which were on sale to raise funds for educational purposes of the Graphic Arts classes.
‘The first room on the left has small prints, very charming, something to see in every piece, and the prices not too expensive.’
The student artists take turns overseeing the exhibition and being on hand to meet visitors, to offer assistance, and to answer any questions.
‘In the inner rooms hang large works by the more senior students (BFA) and MFA. The lighting [contributes to the unity of the display]. The design and layout of pictures of student work in the catalog accurately mirror the exhibition.’
Parinya recounts Yahnwit’s explanation of how the graphic arts teachers worked with students to plan the exhibition and divide responsibilities. Working together closely, with guidance and advice from teachers, the students took on the task. Especially on the day they set up the show, they worked together till midnight. Students learned to deal with the situation. Many things gave useful new ideas.
Surasi explained that the red panel at the entrance was there as a vivid attraction to visitors, and a sign of the new young blood of these graphic arts students.
The engraving of the image of the 5th King is reproduced at the top the left-hand page and identified as the work of Pinit Pantaprawat. Below are 4 small reproductions of some of the graphics in the show. There are another 7 small reproductions of student works from the show on the right-hand page.
Commentary: Pishnu Supanimitr also used a ‘walking tour’ strategy in “25 Years of the National Art Exhibition – What’s it About? (Part 1)” in his Siamrat Sapdavijarn article of 13 Jan. 2523 /1980, but with emphasis on the distinctive individual creativity of each artwork made by different artistic personalities and the progression of the history of modern art in Thailand. Parinya’s theme, by contrast, is his moral and aesthetic tenet of success through care for beauty and for all aspects of the whole, and his delight in a well coordinated and enthusiastic educational and professional project which also aimed to raise funds by reviving a valuable old engraving by a highly skilled craftsman.
33. Parinya Tantisuk. When it Rains, Pig Shit Runs.
Yr.45, Vol.10, 9 - 15 August, 1998.
Parinya introduces Suthi Kunawichaiyanont, a graduate in graphic art from the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn (PSG/SU) who did his MFA studies at Sydney College of Arts, University of Sydney and is now a teacher in the Art Theory Department, (PSG/SU).
Although Suthi’s solo show, ‘When it Rains, Pig Shit Runs’ (the article doesn’t seem to say where the exhibition was staged), will close before this review is published, the critic states that he wants to record the show (my emphasis), since the work of the artist is very distinctive, and the show consonant with the current situation in Thai society. A description of the proceedings may therefore prove useful in the future.
The exhibition contains drawings and mixed media works from 1995 -1998. The artist uses the form of the elephant and astrological signs. His mixed media work consists of Siam White Elephant, from1995 – 97, and Eternal Repetition and Breathe In, Breathe Out, the latter two both from 1997 – 98.
Parinya is particularly interested in the series Breathe In, Breathe Out.
‘It consists of Fierce Tiger of Asia, Legend of the Fields and Elephant Trampling House. These three works are made of para-rubber, plastic cloth, breath, wind, rubber tubes, stainless steel and pipes. These materials comprise the body of the animals which are important and closely associated with Thai culture – 3 kinds – tigers, buffalos and elephants – Three kinds of animals which have been close to Thai people since ancient times.’
Nowadays, however, the forests are gone. Elephants who worked at logging are brought to Bangkok to beg and entertain. They die horribly. The news is so depressing. Tigers are trapped and sold for their skins, hunted to near extinction.
‘If you consider these three kinds of animals concretely and go deeper into abstraction, you might find an idea, many ideas. Tiger or Fierce Tiger gives the meaning of value in the recent era which was so overblown and exaggerated in a bubble economy which burst bloodily all over the place. Buffalo may suggest people – you and I – all of us. So thin and dry, big heads (starving) or even elephants – big animals, symbols of greatness, the Lords of beasts, symbols of Siam…I think the artist looks at them like this, and would like to see their lives extended – the lives of these three important animals.’
Parinya mentions the Chao Phraya river as well, the lifeline of the people and dying from trash and sewage. We should stop pretending that we don’t see or hear.
The artist emphasizes the need for mutual help and cooperation; everyone helps together, more and more. Help quickly and generously. When everyone helps inflate these animals by sharing their breaths, the animals rise up, filling out in beautiful shapes. But when the blowing stops, they collapse back to shapelessness.
We should think about it as the artist has; we should do something for the country besides arguing.
Three photos on the left-hand page show the installation. The largest image is the deflated buffalo carcass with wilted horns. Below, there is a view of inflated tigers climbing stairs upward, and another image of visitors to the show inflating a para-rubber tiger. On the right-hand side are 4 pictures. On the top, facing the close-up of its head on the title page, is a view of the entire figure of the deflated buffalo, with the artist standing behind, blowing into a tube. The three other pictures below are images of a collapsed elephant awaiting resuscitation, its head on a large pillow.
(Under ‘Exhibitions,’ there is a note that Niti Watuya has a show entitled Dark Age at the Wityanitat Gallery at Chulalongkorn University from 7 – 30 Aug.)
Commentary: The critic makes explicit his awareness that, by describing the event in the SilpaWattanatham column of Siamrath Weekly magazine, he is recording a worthwhile event in the history of Thai contemporary art during a significant period in the history of modern Thai society. He thus acknowledges the involvement of contemporary Thai art and criticism in the history of the nation.
34. Parinya Tantisuk. 4 Elements Group.
Yr.45, Vol.11, 16 - 22 August, 1998.
The 4 Elements Group is a gathering of young artists, Yupha Changkul, Denpongse Wongsarot, Thamrongsak Nimanusornkul and Sompongse Lirasiri, each with his or her own style of painting, drawing, graphic art and mixed media. Their show is at Bahn Chao Phraya on Phra Ahtit road. There are many pieces with interesting techniques, bold, exploratory and progressive.
Yupha Changkul, the only woman in the group, presents etchings, drawings and works of mixed media. Yupha has been successful with many of her etchings. Hitherto, her work has been soft, feminine, dreamy, smooth and sensitive, but the works in this show are heavier and more serious.
‘In many [of Yupha’s works here] there are forms of little animals such as frogs or little insects enclosed by forms like eyes, nets or cages. These little animals are no longer as quiet and peaceful or still as they used to be. In some pictures, the animals wag their tongues – unlike before, when the little bird would sleep peacefully in its nest, as in Nesting Night. These things suggest that the artist’s life is changing, and that the artist has new ideas or that she looks at life in a new way…Another observation is the matter of using art elements. The works in this series are too heavy on the dark side. So you can’t very differentiate between figure and ground. The artist may have been so very determined and too worried and focused on content. Could it be?’
‘Denpong Wongsarot presents paintings and graphic linear designs. Painting is his forte. He has his own style and techniques…The artist controls weight and color in the work very well. What I want to comment on [the critic notes] is the figures of the people and other elements.’
Parinya poses an objection to the forms of people, which are the principle and important forms in Denpong’s work this time. Why did the artist use the same figurative pattern throughout? Why not have more variation in pattern and detail of figure and clothing?
Thamrongsak Nimanusornkul presents paintings and silkscreens. He looks more like a graphic artist than a painter. His work depends on precision and neatness. There are good results in many of the graphic works.
Sompong Lirasiri presents many little paintings with mixed technique together in a set. The artist is very interested in decorative design. In some works, the outer edge of the image takes a free form. If these irregular forms had more meaningful shapes, it would contribute more to the meaning of the artwork.
Parinya concludes that the four artists each have their own approach and way of developing. They have far to go, but they are strong and diligent. The critic concludes that we will see advances in their work as time goes by – next time!
The critique is illustrated on the left page with two pictures of graphics (Nesting Night, Distant Night) by Yupha and two reproductions of paintings by Denpongse, i.e. (Bangkok 1, Bangkok 3). On the right hand page, there are two works by Thamrongsak, i.e. a painting and a graphic image, Silver Pattern. Below are two untitled pictures of works by Sompong.
Commentary: The critic’s discussion of these works is a workmanlike technical discussion. The artists would probably be honored that the critic, a well-known artists and one of their former teachers at the Faculty of Painting, SU, has looked so closely at their work. They would be likely to take his analyses to heart, seeing in the critique some helpful observations from a friendly expert.
35. Parinya Tantisuk. Competition of the Best Art in Thailand, 2541.
Yr.45, Vol.12, 23 – 29 August, 1998.
The Thailand Art Competition is sponsored by the Phillip Morris Group of Companies. This is the 5th such competition since 1995. After judging, the winning entries will be sent on to compete in an ASEAN competition involving artworks from 6 nations.
There are 4 illustrations, pictures of winning entries, on the left-hand page of the review and 6 pictures of other winners on the right-hand page.
Commentary: The critique is generally a list of those who were winners or honorable mentions in this competiton.
36. Parinya Tantisuk. The 44th National Art Exhibition.
Yr.45, Vol.13, 30 August – 5 September, 1998.
The national show has been staged 43 times in 46 years. In the 44th exhibition there are 294 pieces on show by 160 artists; 33 pieces of sculpture from 20 artists; 77 pieces of graphic art from 35 artists; and 27 works of mixed media from 20 artist.
In painting – Parinya Tantisuk and Prekamol Chiowanich, silver medals.
In sculpture and graphic art, as well, only silver medals were awarded. Only one gold medal was given this year, to Daeng Buasaen in the category of mixed media, for his work, State of Deterioration, Decline and Loneliness in Society.
The committee of judges this year was composed of ll persons: leading artists (Decha Worashun, Khemrat Khongsuk, and one other person); art academicians (Montien Boonma, Tongchai Rakpathum, Nontiwat Chatapalin, Manit Phu-ari, Pongdech Chaikutr, and Kamchorn Soon pongsri); and two independent artists (Sawasdi Tantisuk and Prayat Pongdam).
Of course, all the judges are artists, but they work and show with differing degrees of frequency. Selections of winning artworks are the results of varied points of view, experience, taste and preferences among the judges.
Parinya admits to not agreeing with their decisions this year in every case. In some instances, they awarded a prize for the lesser of two works by the same artist, in his view. And some works which deserved prizes did not get any. But, of course, people see things differently. And that is why they have a panel of judges which seeks consensus and tries to be fair and transparent. The votes, if not always unanimous, fell clearly into majority – minority, and the judges were well-qualified with an understanding of the breadth and depth of art, a very deep understanding, leading to insightful and authoritative decisions.
Though the results of the judging might include some ‘misses,’ that is quite normal. The views of the dissenting opinions are included in the records. Hopefully, the next shows will be even better organized, even more transparent, better and more progressive than ever.
Among those who participated, there was satisfaction, indifference and dissatisfaction with the results. People look at things differently.
‘But I always think that love and faith in what we do…in this love and faith in art – I always think about what I can do to make good art. And I always found that that way of looking helps me a lot. How one looks helps create ones mind in a positive mode, to be on the bright side, the creative side. At the same time, looking at the negative side, putting ones mind that way, the dark way, is the destructive side. Looking on the positive side should lead to good thoughts and good actions. In the end, there are good results. One begins with thinking of making good work, not being too attached to winning prizes.
At the press conference, Parinya was asked if his artwork was of any benefit to a society which now has many problems and has fallen very low. The question came from a reporter who is very socially conscious on behalf of the public.
‘I’d like to reply,’ says the critic, ‘ that I think that in art – and not only in my art or in anyone in particular’s art – the starting point is one view of society. Art reflects what is happening in society in each era. No matter how artists express themselves in their work, in its form and content, it is what the artist thinks and experiences in his life in society. [my italics]…Works of art all give new experience to viewers and collectors, who get some benefit from every style of art. New experience makes viewers and collectors of art have ideas and feelings…As the ancient saying goes, ‘Art lifts up the mind and the heart, the intellect, and creates and develops the mind to be a better (‘higher’) human being.’
On the left-hand page are reproductions of pictures of silver medal paintings and sculptures and the gold medal winning work of mixed media. On the facing page are reproductions of pictures of a silver medal winning sculpture and a silver medal winning silkscreen print.
Commentary: The response to the results of the judging must have been subdued, since only one gold medal was awarded, and that to a somber work that speaks of
‘Deterioration, Decline and Loneliness in Society.’
Parinya records an interesting exchange in which a socially conscious reporter asks the artist what good his work is to suffering Thai society today. Since Parinya’s work is typically quite abstract, such a question might be viewed as a challenge. Parinya replies, that what artists (like himself) express (such as his abstract work) reflects what they experience in society. Therefore, it reflects something in society. Indeed, Parinya is a person habitually in search of beauty and care for all aspects of the whole
(See: Print from Graphic Art Classes – 2540 Academic Year. 2 - 9 August).
Another aspect of the critic/artist’s response is his repeated reference to ‘viewers and collectors.’ Parinya can unhesitatingly claim that they are uplifted by these artworks because they, like him, are used to being among original artworks, in the presence of the awesome, full –sized, physical objects. Standing before a masterful original painting is typically a very special experience. Unfortunately, most of the Thai population rarely have such an opportunity. Readers in society live with magazine articles and art reproductions; non-readers would stand at an even greater distance.
37. Parinya Tantisuk. Art QC.
Yr.45, Vol.14, 6 - 12 September, 1998.
The executive decree (proposed) #4 has breezed through Parliament announcing the raising of the toll on the expressway (in 2months). All the tickets at the old price were sold out in 3 hours.
But there were free gifts of brick chips, debris and cement dust from all the construction sites in many places falling on cars and travelers. The complaints can be heard on jor-sor100 radio every day.
Other parliamentary discussions dither on endlessly…The discussions are not systematic or knowledgeable. The talk is empty…rambling. Political games take precedence over political problems, revealing the low quality of our politicians.
People today are so tense. No smiles. Because of people, and people who lack quality. There are worries in every branch, every vocation. Low quality, low standards.
Now there is talk of quality control, so there are more smiles. The word is no longer just quantity.
This year, Panya Wijintanasarn, deputy rector for art and culture at Silpakorn University, announced that more artists submitted work for consideration in the National Show. That was good news for Esso Corporation, the long-time supporter of the National Show. The number of artists participating and the number of works sent testify that this, the nation’s oldest art show and supported by Esso, is important and of interest in the artworld.
The Contemporary show for Young Artists (aged 16 – 25), as well, received 371 works from 245 artists this year. The numbers look good. However, the artists in these shows were overwhelmingly negative in the images of society which they presented.
In the artworld they are talking about QC. What can we do to get quality art that is up to standard?
QC rests with two groups – the artists who send their work and the judges who select for the shows. The artists who send their work don’t just go for size. They go for intensity in the body of the work. Intensity is more important. They don’t pack the drawings, but emphasize meaning, feeling, creative ideas, power of expression - getting it down right.
The judging committee is important. Their duty is to judge purely and justly. They must look for quality in the artworks. They must understand the objective of each competition, that each one has its own objectives. The committee must be fair without politics, without ties to any institution and without class distinctions. The principle thing is the work there before their eyes.
In the end, it depends on each individual judge. Is he walking along a pure path, or is he biased? I believe that these judges were pure in heart and made their selections justly. Perhaps they were not 100% fair, but it was more than just 10%. The general results are convincing.
The people who sent in work believed in the judges. The works were accepted to show; some won prizes. These are guarantees of the quality of the works. The artists gain credibility. This is the exercise of QC in art and in society, together.
The article is illustrated with pictures of 2 prize-winning sculptures and a winning silkscreen on the left-hand page, and with reproductions of 2 winning acrylic paintings and one of the winning silkscreen prints.
Commentary: In these troubled times, quality becomes the new catchword, even though bigger numbers are encouraging, of course, as when more artists send in their work to art competitions.
In this article, the critic mentions some characteristics that mark quality of art in his estimation: intensity, meaning, feeling, creative ideas, power of expression and ‘getting it down right,’ which might include composition.
His assessment of good judges was possible better presented in his article of the previous week in discussing the 44th National Art Exhibition. Parinya’s discussion of the work of the subcommittee for the bor-ror-sor auction (Art Auction bor-ror-sor (ปรส). 7 – 13 / 14 – 20 June) also sheds light on his view of the character and duties of such referees. In this essay he mentions that judges must be pure and just; must understand the objectives of the competition; must be apolitical and without institutional or class biases. Their primary judgment must depend on ‘what they see before their eyes.’ The fact that artists from all over Thailand who send their work to the competition labor under massive inequities in the educational system and in the economic life of the nation does not enter into his equation, for it would then become unworkable.
38. Parinya Tantisuk. Fetish.
Yr.45, Vol.15, 13 – 19 September, 1998.
Tavorn Ko-udomwit is an assistant professor of graphic arts the Faculty of Painting, Silpakorn University (PSG/SU) and an artist whose fame is far-reaching. Tavorn is well known in many countries, particularly Japan, where he exhibits his work almost every year. Elsewhere, his works recently won distinguished awards in Krakow, Poland and in Varna, Bulgaria.
Tavorn’s reputation as a very serious, determined, and sincere artist dates back as far as his days as a student at Poh Chang, and later at PSG/SU. These qualities are the basis of his preparedness as an artist. They fuel his drive to success, making his work and his life firm and stable.
This year in September and October, Tavorn will be showing at the Nob Gallery in Aichi, Japan. Many Thai artists have shown here before, including Tavorn, himself.
His new series uses materials from Thai houses such as basic utensils and seeds from the rural North of Thailand.
The artist used to live in Chiengrai and has built a house and studio there, using local materials. He loves the beauty of old wood, ceramic tile, wooden roof slats, and other materials which people might not value from old homes. He brought them to use in building his dream house, a beautifully cool place, surrounded by mountains. On holidays, he takes his family there to relax and work.
His former works show interest in ceremonies, souls and spirits associated with Thai-Chinese culture. Later, he became interested in the simplicity of the provincial North.
Once he told me about the health food he is interested in now and the nutritional regimens he follows.
For Tavorn, sacred things include old wooden pillars and posts from the North, bells, seeds of various vegetables, bits of rural life and nature, interesting forms which offer new feelings and experiences under the artist’s creative touch.
‘In my view, the sacred things of Tavorn are not sacred ritual objects or ceremonial paraphernalia of various priests and masters. In my view, Tavorn has created holy objects which express his feelings about being himself and being true to the source of his life, to the things which raised and nurtured him, the resources of nature and his ancestors.’
On the left-hand page, letters spelling out the word Fetish, the title of the article, are uncharacteristically stacked along the margin of the page. At the top is a reproduction of a portrait photo of Tavorn, bearded, and gazing at the camera with a serious expression, the light glinting coldly off the glasses of his spectacles. Below him are three art objects, all titled ‘fetish’. On the right-hand page are 4 more such objects, all with the same title.
Commentary: A fetish is, by definition, an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion. The extraordinary appreciation of wooden objects and structures in Japanese culture is well-known, and might be imagined to become, at times, a fetish.
The romance of old wood, provincial handicrafts and seeds is familiar. Parinya assembles a number of elements in the critique, including the information that Tavorn, besides showing frequently in Japan, has built a beautiful wooden home up among the peaceful mountains of Chiengrai. This might be then be construed rather as an escape than a ‘return to the source.’
39. Parinya Tantisuk. The 15th Exhibition by the Members of the Faculty of Painting. Yr.45, Vol.16, 20 – 26 September, 1998.
The critic, who is also an artist and a university teacher of art, presents a low-keyed overview, perhaps envisioned as an introduction for readers who may think of visiting the exhibition at the Faculty of Painting. The critic admits the problem of the wide range of unintelligibility that people typically experience when faced with original works of high art. The dreams and imagination of humans are endless, hence all the unexpected things we create. Art is like that: there are many types. Some have quick success, but how long the work will be admired is another question. Successful works quickly have many imitators, but it is better, more exciting and much more fun to explore and discover new things. In the Faculty exhibition, there are many artists, many teachers and many forms and styles. Some emphasize the concept; form does not lead. Idea comes first and is the central principle in the works of some artists. Some works give importance to the steps in the creative process. They may communicate by media such as videos or books. Other artists begin with an idea but develop far beyond that first step. The forms will develop continually, creating power and feeling till all the visual elements are in the right place. Some artists go with their emotions, very deeply, touching the heart with the content, the story. Their works have high quality and rise above the ordinary.
In using materials, the artist may surprise us by choosing the unexpected – the hood from a car, for example, sheets of metal or tools. The artist arranges and connects them into beautiful new forms symbolizing something in society or in the heart of the artist.
Some works emphasize style, technique and method while passing on a traditional subject. He may take some element or episode of a Buddhist story or legend of a mythological animal to express ideas, opinions or feelings about the situation in Thai society today. Such works emphasize form, content, and expression with Thai art character clearly expressed.
The current of art changes continually, with styles coming in and out of fashion. There is a kind of recycling going on, taking old things and remaking, but unlike what was there before and so regarded as new.
With that said, the critic invites his readers to come and see for themselves the variety of styles and ideas in the faculty exhibition at the Faculty of Painting, Silpakorn.
The article is illustrated with photographs of the gallery in the process of hanging the show. The paintings are seen, leaning up against the wall of the gallery room, including one of Tavorn Ko-udomwit’s fetishes. In another photo, we see an open toolbox and a ladder in the middle of the room. Tongchai Srisukprasert, one of the teachers, is pictured at work on one of his new paintings.
Commentary: Parinya gives a general theoretical introduction as prelude and prologue to the art works he will review in next week’s column. Parinya’s criticism tends wholeheartedly toward formalism and modernism. He places individual artists at or very near the center of the history of art.
40. Parinya Tantisuk. 5 Types, 5 Styles.
Yr.45, Vol.17, 27 September – 3 October, 1998.
In this article Parinya reviews the works of five artist / teachers showing in the annual exhibition of the members of the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts at Silpakorn University (PSG/SU).
The first work is an abstract acrylic painting, mixed technique, by Asst. Prof. Ittipol Tangchalok, Curtain of Light #7, soft and fresh, inviting us to think of the coolness of leaves and plants, like the leafy top of a tree through which sunlight and blue sky are visible. A picture of the work (actual size 120 x 220 cm) is reproduced to the left of the text which describes it.
The second piece selected by Parinya for scrutiny is a mixed painting, an untitled work, No.5, 1997, by Asst. Prof. Roong Tirapijit, whom the critic describes as one of the most expert in Thailand at choosing industrial materials to use in making works of art. The work pictured is one of two pieces. This work ‘gives a different kind of emotion – energetic, serious and decisive. The scraps of material – whatever they meant before – now have a new meaning, as Roong has brought them together in a new way.” A reproduction of a picture of the work (actual size, 80 x 80 cm) is to the left of the text.
The third piece is rather conceptual, a sort of grid, by Pishnu Supanimitr, The Book I Haven’t Written, the Picture I Still Haven’t Made, the Work of Art I Still Haven’t Made. He is very attached to books and has been for a long time. Many ideas and inspirations for Pishnu’s important works concern books and writing. A reproduction of a picture of Pishnu’s work (actual size, 120 x120 cm) in the Faculty exhibition appears on the left.
Two reproductions appear on left-hand of the second page of the article. The upper one is a reproduction of a photo of a printer at work. (The actual size of Suti Kunawichaiyanond’s work, which includes the printer and the paper it is printing, is 70 x 150 x 200 cm). It is entitled Prayer, Halfway Through the Buddhist Era. The artist has programmed a machine to create his artwork. The information printed out is over-lapped continually. The words are prayers such as: breathe in, breath out; money comes continuously; me – mine. The computer seems to give meaning to city people in this troubled era and in an economy where there never seems to be enough.
The last piece selected by Parinya for consideration is an oil painting by Nawin Biedklang, Fifteen Years Old. The work itself consists of three frames; Parinya is able to present two of them, i.e. reproductions of Nawin’s mug-shot-like images of a woman and a young school girl. They appear to the left of the text. (The actual size of the artwork is 90 x 190 cm.) The picture at the top of the complete work (missing from this reproduced image) presents the faces of two, very large, mean-looking men. The work of this artist is emotional, unsettling and violent. Cases of murder, rape and sexual abuse or prostitution of children happen almost every day. Nawin protests.
‘The artist cringes in despair at these social problems…drives in his message, pounds us with it, makes us tremble and shrink back, afraid, unable to remain indifferent. From these images, we should help each other find ways to improve the deteriorated situation in society.’
Commentary: Parinya presents his readers with a little bouquet of artistic talents and personalities. It is a sampling of varied artworks on show at the annual exhibition by the members of the faculty at PSG/SU.
Ittipol’s work takes motifs from nature to make a work which is fresh and inviting; Roong’s work uses the materials of industrialization to create works which are energetic, serious and decisive.
Pishnu, famous writer as well as artist, is frequently inspired by books – hence his ‘book I haven’t written’ work.
Suti’s work is conceptual, making art from a printer and a computer program which carries on a robotic sort of Buddhist chanting.
Finally, Nawin’s oil painting on canvas blasts Thai society for tolerating its own abusive and exploitative sex industry.
41. Parinya Tantisuk. Painters of the New Generation.
Yr.45, Vol.18, 4 – 10 October, 1998.
Parinya takes a closer look at 3 other young male painters who were honored in the big national show earlier in the year. (The 44th National Art Exhibition. 30 Aug – 5 Sept).
The first subject on the first page of the article is Prekamol Chiowanich. There is a portrait photo of the artist, looking grimly at the viewer, and to the right of it, a reproduction of a picture of one of his paintings on wood (actual size 296 x 174 cm).
Prekamol Chiowanich, now a teacher at Chang Silpa College, Ladkrabang.
‘His work is outstanding in his use of materials which intensely express emotion and feeling via the natural surface markings and his own marks made, for example, on wood. Prekamol’s work concerns society and the environment, problems of forest encroachment, the burning of forests for charcoal and the destruction of nature.
Prekamol uses varied pieces of loose wood, large and small, arranging them anew. Sometimes he scorches the wood, leaving black markings. He uses red and earth colors, and presses soot into all the cracks, then cleaning the surface again. Some surfaces are clear and light, contrasting with deeper, darker black areas.
The delicious thing about this works, says the critic, is the elements – surfaces, marks, brownish red colors and deep black dancing around.
The second page presents portrait photos of Sonsiri Sirisingh, who is seen glancing to the right, where there is a reproduction of a picture of one of his works mixed media works (actual size, 185 x 160 cm).
Sonsiri is a painter who also uses materials instead of paint, but his materials, way of working and objectives are different from Prekamol, who uses wood. Sonsiri uses synthetic materials like cloth which give a smoother, softer, sweeter feeling. The cloth, with different colors, patterns and textures – some rough, some fine - is sewn, stretched and pulled. Sonsiri is interested in emotion and feeling inside people, very subtle and delicate, in the human heart.
‘Sonsiri pulls, stretches and overlaps the cloth, creating forms which represent these emotions and feelings. He uses big sheets of cloth, lightweight, stretched tight, twisted, knotted, to contrast with the rich weight of another piece, till the rough end of the cloth reaches a curved, tapering point.’
The last artist pictured is Pairote Wangbol. In his portrait photo, he gazes toward the right. Below his picture is a reproduction of one of his oil paintings (actual size, 200 x 250 cm). The work of Pairote, who teaches painting at the Faculty of Painting, is altogether different from the works of the other two, for whom materials come first and clearly. Pairote uses oil color, like most painters, but his way of painting is special, different from other painters.
‘The distinctive colors painted by Pairote are in his slicing on and wiping colors off...He alters his tools, for example, cutting short the bristles on his brushes to get a desired effect, or using other tools such as sliced sponges to wipe surfaces. Pairote is interested in the possibilities of nature, what arises and what is extinguished, the uncertainty, change and evolution, according to the cycle of life, death and rebirth. He is inspired by meeting and noticing the coverings, the deterioration, the changing character of leaves and grass. These are the beginnings of creating forms. He sets the structure of color, dark and intense, then slaps on and wipes away the color in planes and forms of various sizes, setting the masses with a direction and movement, as in [the reproduction of Pairote’s work], which throws itself down from right to left.’
Commentary: Parinya presents his readers with three more talented young artists in the contemporary Thai artworld. Parinya’s descriptions of these abstract works make them much more meaningful and comprehensible to viewers, who are thereby better prepared to enjoy the material and physical excitement of the original art objects. Works of abstract art are at a tremendous disadvantage when reproduced in magazines. In cases like this, the descriptive and persuasive skills of the critic are of major importance.
42. Parinya Tantisuk. Exhibition of the Work of Members of the Faculty of Decorative Arts. Yr.45, Vol.19, 11 – 17 October, 1998.
The Gallery of Art and Design of the Decorative Arts Faculty at Silpakorn University, Wang Tha Phra is a new gallery, just opened this past September 15th on Silpa Bhirasri Day. The opening featured a show by members of every branch of study in the Faculty.
This faculty has been open since 1956. From the start there were 3 branches of study – decorative arts, art and science and decorative materials. Today, the faculty has 6 branches – interior design and decoration, communication arts design, product design, applied art studies, ceramic glazes and decorative design.
The works of Ekechat Tanurairat often use found materials which are beautiful in themselves, and he uses them very well, bringing them together to create new forms which give birth to new characteristics and new design ideas. Parinya looks briefly at the works of 10 or 11 more faculty members. The article is illustrated with reproductions of an equal number of pictures of works from the show.
Commentary: The opening of a new gallery on campus is always a welcome event.
43. Parinya Tantisuk. Art Activities in the Community.
Yr.45, Vol.20, 18 – 24 October, 1998.
Parinya observes that, during the past year or two, art has been pushing out to meet and be seen by people rather than waiting for people to travel to the gallery for exhibitions. Instead, art is being found on the street or footpath, or inside abandoned old buildings which the artists clean up as part of their showing.
Although Bangkok still remains the major center, the approach toward making art depends great on the individual artist. Everyone can express himself, just be sincere. Parinya refers to the art activities in the old Krusapha Printing House in Banglamphu at the beginning of the year. (Books. 31 May – 6 June, 1998.)
In addition to making artworks, the art activities were intended to awaken authorities to the importance of a valuable heritage that should be preserved in honor of the wisdom and culture of the community.
Last Saturday there were activities at Sanam Luang commemorating the 14 October event. A group of artists were there to create picture and to do performance art.
Artists doing activities in the community have to do their homework to avoid creating any disturbance where a temple or palace area is concerned. Studying possible sites can be a good chance for the artist to learn and develop his own work because entering in and relating to things outside the usual realm of ones work means the artist must change in order to fit into a new environment. Whatever the artist makes must fit harmoniously into the new context. Another matter is coping with earth, air and water, especially in the rainy season, when flooding is a problem.
If the art is near an important tourist spot, more people will see it. It is more accessible than when hidden away in a gallery or museum. When art is outside in a public space, people can see it frequently and repeatedly. They can feel it. And it eases tensions in the city which is so dry and materialistic. Every social class has the same opportunity to appreciate the aesthetic quality of such art.
Many countries have been doing this for a long time. Artists in Chiengmai, both Thai and foreign, have made art installations in public places many times. Unfortunately, the state and those in authority over the locations do not come out to take a role or offer much support. It is a way of disseminating contemporary art and culture. At all the big ‘Expo’ events – in Korea, for example – they invite artists to come and make works. When completed, the works belong to the host country. The Asian Games are coming up and Thailand will be the host.
A community related art activity is planned: Bangkok, City of the Immortals of Heaven. The Thai Tourism Authority, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and Silpakorn University will take responsibility for this project. Artists will be invited to make artworks in 2-3 dimensions to be put up at designated sites all over outer Rattanakosin Island. Though this is a rather hasty plan, within a limited time frame, to artists are cooperating, both the independents and those attached to institutions. Last Saturday, Panya Wijintanasarn organized a meeting with the artists to visit the designated areas. The artists were taken on a bus tour around the designated areas to see which points were of interest to them. In such a sensitive historical area, the artists had to plan carefully so their artworks would fit in properly. The critic promises to keep his readers informed as this project takes shape.
The article is illustrated with 7 or 8 views of Rattanakosin Island and the artists looking at the possible sites for their artworks.
Commentary: The critic seems to be preparing readers for the upcoming event in which artworks will appear in public spaces around the historic Rattanakosin Island. Though the plan is admittedly hastily conceived, the artists are cooperative, joining in the bus tour around those parts of the island deemed appropriate for art installations.
44. Parinya Tantisuk. The Drawings of the Prime Minister.
Yr.45, Vol.21, 25 – 31 October, 1998.
‘Twentyfive years ago, there was a young politician who had to avoid danger from dictators. This young politician was a fine speaker. His education had also included studies in art. He had studied at the art school known today as Chang Silpa before entering Thammasat University to study law. He became Prime Minister twice. Still, he has art in his veins. In addition to supporting and being a regular patron to artists and the artworld of Thailand, he seems to like to take turns with his other skills, i.e. making art, especially drawing. Everyone has seen when they televise parliamentary debates. You see him sketching: we have seen his works, for example, Mr. Murayama, the Prime Minister of Japan, with those great eyebrows. You see his work getting better every year. He was invited to show as a guest artist, honored in the exhibition with senior artists such as Prateuang Emcharoen, who has commented favorable on PMChuan’s drawing skills.
The article is illustrated with three sketches of individuals – including a young schoolboy, a group of country folk waiting with gifts to receive a visit from Somdej Prathep, and two drawings of trees.
Commentary: One is reminded of Pishnu Supanimitr’s column in SilpaWattanatham 20 years earlier in which he reviewed with delight an exhibition of the arts studies of Somdej Prathep and the paintbrushes and sculpture tools of the young princess.
(Pishnu Supanimitr, ‘An Exhibition in Honor of the Royal Patron,’ Yr.24, Vol.45, 7 May, 1978.)
The local artworld is pleased and honored when these luminaries express a taste for the essential language of art…sketching, or drawing, etc.
45. Parinya Tantisuk. Life with Waterways..
Yr.45, Vol.22, 1 – 7 November, 1998.
Tinnakorn Kasornsuwan is making a name for himself. His success grows from a good foundation, as he was raised by guardians who wanted him to grow up strong, healthy and smart, and also to develop his artistic gifts. They found good teachers to help and lead him ahead.
Tinnakorn is diligent and patient, and has progressive, creative ideas. At age 13, his work was selected to show with ASEAN in Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Tinnakorn studied at Srisongkram School in Loei, then at Chang Silpa College. Later, he took his MBA in graphic art at the Faculty of Painting, Silpakorn University.
His exhibition, Life with Waterways, is his first solo show in Thailand. All the works are paintings. Viewers will get a taste of his technique and forms, changed from his graphic artworks.
The first page of the critique has a large photo of the artist in the upper center, looking directly at the camera with a firm, serious express and a hand on one hip. The crystal of his watch is very distinct, like a reminder that time is very important. Below him are two large reproductions of pictures of his new acrylic paintings. There are three more such reproductions on the second page.
Tinnakorn feels a bond with the life and activities of the people on the waterways, the abundant vegetation. These subjects are buried deep in the artist’s memory from when he lived upcountry where you could smell the water and the natural atmosphere, so peaceful and beautiful.
Such stories and content have been brought by Tinnakorn to show in his art since his first series of graphic works, so white and clean, so delicate, warm and contrasting, with little black seeds, like little children, and plants, vegetables and fruit. Agriculture. He expressed himself very clearly. On the back of a wooden wall, so peaceful and still. He used realistic forms, but went deep to the meaning, to show the spirit of life in rural Thailand.
The work this time is painting. You can see the change from the use of forms realistically. This work is mixed between realism and semi-realism. There is simplification, enlarging in size. Some parts are very clear, with volume. Some parts have only outline. Some parts particularly emphasize color and brushstroke. Forms of plants and fruit float scattered over the areas with weight and strong color for contrast. The work is divided in two sets. In the first, the ground tends to a rich blue, almost black. The forms look like shadows. You can just make out that they are people. Some pieces show tools and instruments such as fish traps. The ground is forceful with brushstrokes and color; it has a more important role than the figures. Mostly, he shows the surface of the water at evening. He shows shadows flitting about. In the later works, forms of plants and fruit have a greater role. They expand, fill the space.
The later paintings still use a deep blue ground as the major framework, but there are exterior forms controlling the boundaries…He tries to select and reduce the forms to bare essentials. Some, he presents as volumes, some as outlines. His brushstrokes leave marks of varied colors.
Parinya concludes that he prefers the earlier graphic series in which all the forms were realistic but transformed themselves into symbols with abstract meaning. He prefers the ‘still powerful depths more than images which look strange, new and weird.’
‘I don’t mean that the work of Tinnakorn in this series is not good, because, in any case, you clearly see that the artist is generous and has developed creatively, and is moving toward an even more developed mode. What I see and criticize may be just my personal preference – only mine. An artist who tries to research and experiment like this should be supported, but we should expect that it is not unusual for experiments to be incomplete…not fully realized.
The artist brings it all together and then chooses, little by little. Taking only what is necessary and in line with ones tastes and abilities, and each artist’s inner nature. From there, the work develops step by step, continuously, till you get to the place of perfect completion. And if the artist still has creative fire, he can begin anew. It is a cycle, finding that place of completeness over and over again…
Commentary: When viewers are far away in space and time, the value and quality of Parinya’s focused descriptions of abstract artworks becomes clear as he assists the reader in imagining that they are, together, poring over the surface of the artwork. Holding on to the critic’s coattails (so to speak), the reader gets a flying tour through a world of abstract elements in paintings and graphics. Parinya makes the journey easy, even fun, in contrast to critics whose descriptions make abstract art even more unintelligible and remote.
It is interesting and unusual that, in this case, he puts up a disclaimer – ‘perhaps it is just his personal preference’ for the earlier graphic work, rather than for Tinnakorn’s new series of paintings. In his kindly way, he closes by reaffirming the importance of artistic experimentation, while noting that, by their very nature, experiments are often incomplete. His closing paragraphs about the little by little, step by step work of artists as they seek completion sounds as if he is quoting personal experience.
46. Parinya Tantisuk. The Grand Exhibition of the Leading Thai Artistry..
Yr.45, Vol.23, 8 - 14 November, 1998.
Parinya reports on a letter and news received from P’ Kamol Tasananchali,
‘a National Artist who has given his life to the creation of art and to spreading the fame [of Thai art] abroad, making art activities useful to the Thai artworld.’ His column this week is a report of the visit to the US and Canada of 5 Thai artists and art scholars – Sawasdi Tantisuk, Manop Tanomsri, Somporn Rodboon, Sakchai Kiertinadintr and Jipon Wong-uparat. This team brought the works of leading Thai artists to show in North America, and organized lectures and discussions of Thai art for the ‘Grand Exhibition of Leading Thai Artistry.’
The first stop for the traveling show was the Thai consulate in Vancouver; the second venue was the University of California at Berkeley, and finally, at the Desert Restaurant in West Hollywood. The show featured the works of seven leading Thai artists – Prakit (Jitr) Buabutr, Sawasdi Tantisuk, Prayat Pongsdam, Prateuang Emcharoen, Damrong Wong-uparat, Decha Worachun and Kamol Tasananchali. The show also included two drawings by PM Chuan Leekpai.
The letter describes some of the burdens and difficulties of arranging and carrying out such a traveling exhibition-lecture project. It is the 25th year of such exhibitions assisted and supported by the Thai Arts Council and Kamol Tasananchali. This is the first time, however, that the exhibition has traveled outside the US. Kamol was also one of the drivers as the group of artists and scholars traveled across country from one city to another.
‘They said that in the wars to come, the weapons, besides using what we are familiar with – war materials – there are means of economic war. They know this very clearly now. And they use art and culture, too. Each country and language must keep up with the world. At the same time, one must love the art and culture of one’s own country so that country will survive. If not, it will be swallowed up.’
Commentary: 25 years is a long period of consistent support and encouragement for contemporary artists in Thailand from the California-based Thai Arts Council. As the discussion draws to a close, there is a fearful note with a reference to ongoing warfare, if not with guns, then economically or culturally, but finishing with a call for generations to come to continue supporting and carrying on these artistic and cultural activities.
47. Parinya Tantisuk. Cultural Heritage of Thai and of Countries in the Mekong Basin. Yr.45, Vol.24, 15 - 21 November, 1998.
This is the 200th year since the founding of INALCO, the Institute of Oriental Language and Culture in Paris. The Institute today teaches more than 80 languages around the world and has an important role in supporting cultural studies. As part of the celebrations of this bicentennial, INALCO joins with Silpakorn University to stage an exhibition of old photos of ways of life in the past of Thai and neighboring peoples in the SE Asian region. The historical photos are displayed at the Gallery of Art and Design of the Faculty of Decorative Arts at SU.
Parinya quotes from the catalog article in his column and features reproductions of some of the photos of life in old Siam from the exhibition.
48. Parinya Tantisuk. Ready Made Human Product With Chromium Trolley. Yr.45, Vol.25, 22 - 28 November, 1998.
The artwork named in the title is the top winner in the 10th Brings Good Things to Life exhibition which opened on the 5th of November at the National Gallery, former PM General Prem Tinasulanond presiding.
Parinya begins by thanking Toshiba Corporation (Thailand) for seeing the importance of and lending support to this event which encourages painting and painters at all levels from children to university level and the general public as well. Thanks too to for the cooperation of various art institutions who help disseminate knowledge of art created in the capital city, sending it out to the regions. It is a bridge, an art road, which is important in helping Thai art to keep going.
‘This Ready Made Human Product is a work of mixed media by Bandit Poonsombatlert, a conceptual piece. It does not express feeling through pretty color or emotions in brushstrokes or power in forms. But it stands firm in its ideas, which are clearly expressed; the forms follow the idea.
The work expresses the objectified world in a form which is very painful to see. The artist uses the familiar vendor’s trolley hung with things to be sold as the little cart moves about the neighborhoods. Typically, these vendors sell sweets, food or other readymade items, but the artist has changed the wares into something new. The clear plastic packets with which this shiny chromium trolley is hung typically contain electronic gadgets, bits of technology. These little sacks, however, contain pieces of human bodies for sale – brains, noses, ears and other organs. Some can be bought individually or in sets. Some envelopes have, for example, an ear-nose-mouth combination, but the brain is sold separately. The cart is hung neatly in rows and categories with plenty of stock. Customers can choose what they prefer.
This ‘organ cart’ creates pain and anxiety in our thoughts and feelings. It refers to humanity in the present era and may be quite normal in the future. As technology progresses, people challenge nature. They get used to having access to mass-produced things. Seeing body-parts on sale, one feels fear and repulsion, new kinds of negative feelings about what can possibly happen in society.
In society today do many people think this is a good idea? Are other human beings of no consequence to them?
Parinya cites the evening news which he witnessed recently on which the news program showed repeatedly, in slow motion, a woman who finally threw herself from the 6th floor of her apartment building in Had Yai. The critic is appalled that the news broadcaster sought to hook viewers by repeatedly showing the macabre scene of the suicide. Parinya notes that the woman’s tragedy became for them simply a marketing opportunity.
The article is illustrated on the left hand page, at the top, with the Chromium Trolley. In the middle of the page are mixed-technique images of city buses by Terdkiet Wangwacharakul, a welded metal sculpture entitled ‘imprisoned’ by Adul Booncham, and at bottom, an acrylic painting by Panupong Chuarun entitled ‘love, greed neglect, anger’. On the right hand side are two series of etchings, the first by Yuwana boonwattanawit, ‘a picture of society’s prey’ and the second by Piya Puangkuntien, ‘around Sanam Luang.’
Commentary: Bandit’s Trolley must have been gruesome, indeed. It is an interesting counterpoint, the videotaping of the suicide and the high art construct, hung with body parts. Parinya’s article contrasts the show at the National Gallery and the show on national television. Along with millions of other viewers, the critic saw the slow motion fall of the woman who killed herself, but the millions of viewers did not see the Chromium Trolley because it was not on television. Art stuck in museums and galleries just doesn’t participate in the flow of world events.
49. Parinya Tantisuk. From Limestone – By Patayodt Phutcharoen.
Yr.45, Vol.26, 29 November – 5 December, 1998.
From Limestone is a new set of creative works by this young teacher in the graphic arts department of Silpakorn University. His distinctive skills lie in lithography. The artist has loved and been close with this printing technique since he was a young student. Now he is a teacher, and expert in his field.
Parinya quote the catalog in which the artist explains about his work. Patayodt was fascinated by the fact that lithography is based on the natural fact that oil and water will not mix. He tried drawing on the block with the tusche stick and mixing various chemicals to see what effects came off the block. The pictures that appear reveal special and interesting characteristics and ‘myriad hidden depths of natural phenomena.’
‘I bring knowledge and feeling and review them again. The chemical phenomena create pictures on the limestone block which kindle my ideas and lead to research and the search for answers about things carried on according to the ways of truth in nature and my feeling from touching the abstract content in search of ‘the essential thing – the soul of nature.’
The article is illustrated with views of Patayodt’s installations, which are also described and analyzed in the text, i.e. Images from the Mind, Range of Stones, Range of Mountains, and Positive and Negative.
Commentary: Certainly, it is not easy to write about abstract art in a way that excites the general Thai public and convinces them that these abstractions are meant for them and have sometime important to say to them.
The illustrations in SilpaWattanantham are not particularly impressive, but even when the quality is quite good, the image and impact of a reproduction has virtually no relation to the powerful physical presence of the original. There is a great need for art critics who, with only reproductions to support their text, can inspire and connect with readers.. Art does not go to the people, but magazines and newspapers can carry reproductions everywhere.
50. Parinya Tantisuk. The Rhythm of Color.
Yr.45, Vol.27, 6 - 12 December, 1998.
The difficulty of pursuing a career as an artist and raising a family is generally known to eliminate many Thai women artists from the art scene not long after they marry.
In most Thai families, Parinya notes, the women are the principle pillars where keeping the home running is concerned. Few Thai women artists keep on making art for long, or even do art activities if they have a family to look after – so few have great success in art.
Pensin Nilwattananon is one of those rare Thai women painters who remain active. She began to gain a name for herself 4 or 5 years ago. She has had 3 solo exhibitions and joined group shows many times. She seems to have lived in France for a long time – in Paris, the city of art and fashion. And people collect art there. There are many masterpieces, which may have inspired and energized her about the value of art during the 29 years she lived there. Having studied at Chang Silpa College and at Silpakorn, when her work allowed her, she came back to painting again. It is something she loves, and we can see the results today.
Parinya takes a look at a number of her paintings, done in Europe. He concludes that in such depressing and tense times, we need to relax. Play the guitar, listen to music, find a good book. Or look at some beautiful art to lift your emotions.
There is a mysterious portrait photo of the artist on the upper right-hand side of the first page. The pictures of three paintings illustrating the article are views, apparently, of Paris.
51. Parinya Tantisuk. Mr. Foreign Speculator, Stop Damaging our Country!
Yr.45, Vol.28, 13 - 19 December, 1998.
The article this week takes its name from an oil painting by Kow Leong King, a Malaysian artist. This work, a reproduction of a picture of which is reproduced in the article, is rather realistic. The artist uses the image of 3 little girls in white. They gaze directly at the viewer. The ground where they stand has bloody footprints of animals spotting it. Behind the children, a field of animals is dying. The sky is darkened and smoke-filled, reflecting the pain of the disaster which takes place in the artist’s home country. This painting received top honors at the ASEAN art awards, sponsored by the Phillip Moris Group of Companies.
Parinya describes some of the interesting works by Indonesian, Lao, Malaysian, Philippine, Singaporean, Vietnamese and Thai artists (A picture of Somporn Teamprasit’s Power of Richness, a mixed media work, is reproduced in the article.)
Commentary: It is ironic that Kow Leong King’s painting spoke so eloquently to the judges at the show, since Malaysia experienced the mildest currency crisis of all, due to timely and courageous decisions and actions taken by Malaysian PM. Mahatir.
52. Parinya Tantisuk. Bangkok Art Project.
Yr.45, Vol.29, 20 - 26 December, 1998.
The first grand art ‘expo’ in Thailand will bring together 78 Thai artists, 8 artists from 7 other Asian countries – Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, Japan, Myanmar – and one from France. They will create art to install and ornament public areas in the city, bringing art near to the people and relating to communities. At the same time, they join in celebrating the 13th Asian games, which will be going on for two full months in Thailand in the new year.
This art expo is a cooperative effort by 3 organizations – the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and Silpakorn University. The cooperating artists include very senior members of the artworld, winners of the highest awards and honors, independent artists young and old, and teachers of art from many institutions. The chairman of the project is Panya Vijintanasarn, vice-rector for art and culture at Silpakorn University.
Art will be seen in public venues around the Rattanakosin Island, slipping out of galleries and museums. The local communities are welcoming the activity and support it. They are even glad to help the artists set up their works. It will be a very large exhibition.
The critic tells a bit of the history of the royal city which was founded more than 200 years ago. There are many songs and stories about Bangkok; the city administration’s symbol is the god Indra riding the Erawan elephant. The island is the site of many temples, palaces and government offices. Many ethnic communities have been here for a long time – Thai, Chinese, whites, Indians and Mon. From here, they spread far and wide in enormous numbers.
The outer part of Rattanakosin Island and Rachadamnoen road include the Kok Wua intersection and the Democracy Monument, where people have rejected dictators and heroes have sacrificed their lives. Parinya offers a roadmap of the area. From this island, he notes, Bangkok has grown to more than 7 million persons, and continues to grow, with new arrivals daily.
‘If we cannot divide the growth and earning of Bangkok with the provinces, make it really happen, get the people to be glad to stay put, they will instead flow in streams into Bangkok, so crowded, creating trash, pollutions, and social problems doubling all over the city.
‘Each artist chooses the angle that he is interested in and adept at handling. All are different. Some create sculptures in the form of a herd of cattle – families of cattle, so charming, father, mother and children, 4 or 5 of them – at the Kok Wua intersection…They recall the past and what the old people used to say about this area. Near the yard of the Hall of Justice was a cattle pen belonging to an Indian couple – Mr.Pradoo and Mrs. Pradar…The local people who came drunk and in a bad temper out of the gambling dens there would hear that Indian couple arguing fiercely and would throw bricks at their roof and run away.
‘Some artists make images of contemporary times in Bangkok –depending on luck and hope to get rich someday by winning the government lottery. Another corner of the Kok Wua intersection, across from the monument to heroes of 14 October there are big crowds of vendors who sell lottery tickets. There are some holy stones, too, two or three of them, and people rub them for luck.
‘Another corner near the Democracy Monument where the idealists of the country fought, we find a giant shower head on the footpath. It refers to the fallen heroes. They were youngsters, full of life, the life of the country – like seedlings – dead in the war of 14 October, 1973 and in the slaughter at Thammasat, 6 Oct. 1976, and in Black May, 1992. Please, we don’t want any more days like that.’
The critic is happy to see the artists giving signs of hope, encouragement, faith. Some decorate the city with flowers. It’s refreshing.
The article is illustrated with a photo of the official launch of the Bangkok Art Project with PM Chuan Leekpai presiding, and with a sketch of the Giant Swing.
Commentary: The critic continues to document the Bangkok Art Project (Art Activities in the Community. 18 – 24 October). He is aware of the rich history reaching back hundreds of years, and of contemporary events in the nation’s modern history. He puts forth such vividly contrasting images – cattle pens and sculptures of cattle, country people streaming to the city, crowds hoping to get rich in the lottery, blood-stained streets and fallen idealists.