Monday, March 30, 2009

Manit Sriwanichpoom. “Darling of the Lechers,” in Siamrath Weekly News, Yr.52, Vol.40, 24 Feb.– 2 Mar. 2549 / 2006

Tanate Aowasintsiri (age 46) is a painter (realist) who is under-rated, though his ideas, abilities and skills are beyond the ordinary. You will notice that his work is not much spoken of in the history of Thai art, or that he doesn’t much get invited to join exhibitions with his artist friends of the same generation like Chatchai Puipia or even his juniors, like Nati Utharit or Tawisak Srithongdi, who are better known.

In any case, Tanate has never retreated because he well understands that the world of art outside and within him are two different worlds with different goals. He works on a regular basis, quietly in the teachers’ studio at Bangkok University where he has been teaching for three or four years. He takes these works to a solo show. His life lacks excitement. It would bore many people.

If anyone goes to see the ‘Darling of the Lechers,’ his latest set of 9 acrylic paintings now showing at 100 Tonson Gallery (19 Jan – 26 Feb 2006),
they will understand Tanate immediately and will be happy with him, too, that he hasn’t changed to art ‘in the fashion.’ In which case, we would lose another real painter, an honest painter, honest to his own feelings. He searches for the forms, style and technique to a high level to reach real excellence.

At the opening of his show, I had a chance to chat with the artist and I would like to share that interview with you, my readers.

Manit: I notice that your earlier works look blurred, oily and dark.

Tanate: There is a lot of texture, heavy and dark, slightly thickened colors.

Manit: Do you see that, up to today, it comes out rather clean, soft and sweet?

Tanate: In part, it is because of the age at which we look at the world. I look at the world as terrible…I used to…(he laughs). It just happens that at this age I can create some better balance in myself concerning the world.

Manit: Would you please explain more on this point?

Tanate: For example, when I was young, I thought the world was so bad. It would mix and mingle inside me. When I make pictures, they would come out a bit negatively. Nowadays, I still look at the world with a negative view, but I understand things better; [I understand] that really, the world is truly terrible in the larger system – it’s evil. But it seems that the longer one remains in this evil world, one needs to create a balance in oneself in order to live in it but not be part of it. I think it is a characteristic of seeking balance in the heart in the face of what we don’t like.

Frankly speaking, I don’t like the world as it is. But one seeks a point of balance. Maybe I am lucky because I am a provincial. I used to experience the true forest – real nature. Now, I think of myself as if I lost the natural light already. For example, I rent a room and it is always light. True darkness, as it really is, we don’t have it anymore. I don’t have the night I had in my childhood anymore. These things – and I think there are many of them – the detritus – come up in tranquility. Peacefulness has value.

Manit: As I see it, you use painting to create substitutes of feeling for what you used to have, and make us feel that we can go on in the world.
Tanate: One has to find balance with a world that is no good, because we have to remain in the world.

Manit: This is part of your reason, is it not, for using ‘woman’ as your subject?

Tanate: I think that many things – maybe we find feelings and take the idea of someone who is very trusting ‘post-feminist.’ I think a look at women very positively. I bring them all together very easily.

Manit: Yes. I forgot to ask you why you use women as symbols.

Tanate: What I said about nature and a feeling of relaxing, letting go of tension, getting away from negative thinking, thinking of generosity, having compassion, being at peace, in quiet, etc. I think that this is the treasure that they call ‘being a woman’ in the form that I know. I don’t divide the sexes that much, but I feel that, if you call this a heritage, you speak of womanliness.

Manit: Therefore, your women are more than sexual.

Tanate: It’s like an inheritance. It’s a state of being. A person can be half human – showing that state of being. But I didn’t plan it that way. It is as if when drawn, it goes that way. It adjusts itself and works like Asian people used to do – not thinking much. We use our lives, what we got , this and that, and record it.

Manit: If you look at women 5 years ago, they were meatier. The women you paint are women with very dark skins – chocolate skins. They seem Asian, but not really. You might say African or Latin. A mixture. They are like ceramics, the color of fired clay.

Tanate: They are not particularly specified.

Manit: It seems like you create ideal women. Another point is, they don’t have shiny eyes. They have broad lips and black eyes. Their figures are rather classic.
Tanate: Not much flesh; they are all scrubbed.

Manit: And what is this landscape of pillows – where does that come from?

Tanate: Speaking simply, the pillows are soft. When you lie upon them, you feel so comfortable. And we live on our bed when we sleep or when we are sick, when we dream or sleep, or whatever. But I didn’t choose them (the pillow symbol) like a conceptual artist or anything, but naturally. Whatever I do, it’s like a landscape.

Manit: And the earthen water jars?

Tanate: These jars have many designs. The old kind, when I was young, were filled with root vegetables. Grandmother pickled them. We used to get larva [from such jars] for our fighting fish. Those were the simple ones. But if you wanted more complexity, as in the earlier days in the city, they used to bury the valuables of the dead in such jars. There are many ways when one thinks; one can think with ones feelings, not with reason.

Manit: Talking about earlier works, your works were full of so many things. If there were people, they would be women. If there were animals, they would be symbols: cats, dogs, crocodiles.

Tanate: Cats and such come from my teaching. I read a lot and know how to use symbols. They come from white systems: dogs suggest faithfulness; cats are women – charming. It’s a comparison. They are good company, but sometimes feisty and scratch. In the West, in the work of Balthus or Manet, cats are used this way. You can see when you study art history. But they don’t use [these symbols] much nowadays.

Manit: In this set of works I am surprised they are so sweet.

Tanate: For me, I don’t find them sweet. I find in them a state of transparent comfort.

Manit: You seem to have crystallized this state in stillness. In earlier works it was as if you threw everything in – everything you knew. And the works were quite big. This set is quite the opposite. Totally from the heart.

Tanate: This (he points to an older work) is the work of a youth. He wants to try. Especially painters. They get the urge to do a painting of 5 or 10 meters. They think it is nothing and plunge into it. I have 3 pieces which are 2 m.60 cm x 2 m 30 cm. A canvas of 6 square meters. No need to show it, but one needs to do it. One tests oneself, like a writer who wants to write an epic poem. But I don’t do that anymore.

Manit: And the crocodile?

Tanate: Myself. (He laughs.) When I was younger, I played around. I was sometimes rowdy, you know. I thought I was a crocodile. That’s over now.

Manit: Or are you just an old crocodile now?
Tanate: (laughs)

1 comment:

Simon Soon said...

Hi there, just wanted to know how much I appreciate you translating the articles into English. You have at least one very appreciative reader here who is very interested in Thai art but does not speak the language!

I've added you to the blogroll of an art website that a few friends and I have started. It's called ARTERI, at http:/

Cheers, looking forward to more!