Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Excerpt from: Alongkorn Laowattana on Sompop Butrach




An Excerpt from: Alongkorn Laowattana on Sompop Butrach in THAI TRADITIONAL ART, FINE ART magazine, Yr. 1, Vol.4, Apr. 2004.

Sompop Butrach hails from Mahasarakam. In his childhood he was a playful kid from a happy family in an environment of freedom country children have. He has liked art for as long as he can remember. He made his first picture with joy, such happiness, working innocently. He knew only that he wanted to make pictures. In fact, his family wanted him to be a teacher, a civil servant like his mother and father. He passed entrance exams to come and study in Bangkok, but he did not take exams which would have led him to a teaching career as his parents wanted. Rather, he applied to Poh Chang and Chang Silpa. According to Sompop, Poh Chang was full of very skilled people in those days. Many of the student body found success both as artists and art teachers.

Later, Sompop entered the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Art at Silpakorn University. He loved doing art, especially making realistic images, and he worked hard at it. He was able to earn his living from his work, which also helped improve his artistic skills. When he finished his studies, he was able to make meaningful realistic images. He made images of things he knew – in the temple; people coming to worship, a nun with an umbrella, full length images, the architecture of the wat, various inside stories.

Sompop began making Thai traditional paintings. He liked to go to the wat, staying over at upcountry temples, staying with monks in the forest. He stayed in a temple, in a cave, slept on the mountain, and was very happily impressed. When he returned home he made pictures of traditional Thai art, images of faith, holiness, religion, religious sites, heaven, palaces, the beauty of nature, waterfalls, gorgeous architecture and religious fervor.

After that, he went to England to work in the Bhuddha Pratheep Temple, working on the murals there, the stories of the life of the Buddha in traditional Thai style. It was a massive soaking up of traditional Thai images. Using acrylic paint, he made images representing the four elements and about Eastern philosophy in the style of contemporary Thai art. Hence, there is a mixture of the traditional and the contemporary, idealistic images, new techniques and surfaces. Later came the ‘angel’ series done as if they were real. Sompop said that he still believes in the reality of sin and good deeds, of blessing and punishment, and in the existence of angels of love. Thai people still have beautiful beliefs, as in the Nature Mother. This is not superstition; it’s a very subtle thing, a beautiful culture, the soul of the world.

The Thai way of life is harmonious with nature. In ancient times the way of life was modest and simple and generally accepted as ‘about right’ – in balance, proportionate.

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