Thursday, November 12, 2009

'Tawanchai' on Chamnan Sararakse in FINE ART, 2004

‘Tawanchai’ on Chamnan Sararakse in PAINTING,
FINE ART magazine, Yr.1, 2004

An artist has returned who has had many successes in the past- in the Bua Luang painting competition and the National Exhibition. They made him famous for his skill, brushstroke and expression.

The artist has a solo exhibition, the first in many years. At the gallery of the Faculty of Painting at Silpakorn University, it’s a good chance to see his work one more time.

His Background and Early Interest in Art

I began to be interested in art in my childhood. I liked to draw. I once drew a picture of King Kong on the wall of the house. (I had walked to the marketplace and had seen that there was this movie playing. I saw the picture of King Kong, remembered it and drew it for myself.) Because we were living upcountry, my folks didn’t mind a bit. Once I went to the movies and saw the hero, Mitrchai Bancha. I went home and drew the picture in the dirt. It made me want to draw.

I just naturally liked drawing. I often went to sneak a peek at the people who made movie posters. Finally, one of them asked, ‘What is this kid coming here for every day?’ He called me over to chat and to clean his brushes. Later, he asked me why I liked art. Did I like to draw pictures? I said I liked to draw a lot. He let me try my hand at painting the backgrounds, sketching them in. When the real painters were not there, I got to try my hand at doing the foreground.

I collected movie posters. I was just a kid. I didn’t know what art was. I just knew it had to be realistic. But I liked it, and I got money for it, too. Simply speaking, I was able to earn for myself since I was a child. I was proud of that.

In high school I started making portraits with charcoal. There was an acharn from Poh Chang – A. Samart. He was the first teacher who had me do Lai Thai. Then I learned that art was not just movie posters. There was more to it than that. I learned about Acharn Silpa Bhirasri from A. Samit Saengpaisrn – that he was a very important person in the artworld.

It became my dream to make pictures on the path of art. From high school, I went to technical school, to the School of Arts and Crafts. There I studied art elements, art theory. I started looking for information in the library. I saw that there are many artists working. I woke up to the reality [of the artworld]. Mostly from foreign magazines I learned about Picasso, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.

How was technical school?

At that time my friends told me that if I liked art, I should go to study at Poh Chang. Some said that they specialize in teaching art at Silpakorn University. I was born into a farm family, so I had to work extremely hard. I had plowed the land, collected sap from rubber trees, planted rice and harvested it. I had seen the poverty of the farmers.

These things affected my work. They were all very close to me. Now I had to work in the current of the economy, with social burdens.

My work reflects the struggle of my life. I am a kindly person, but my father was a fighter. I have in me some things from him. I have the beauty of my mother and the fighting soul of my father. These two things are forces which empower my artwork and help it continue.

After that, I went to study at Silpakorn University. I had problems withmoney. I used to take my friends’ used paper to practice on. I didn’t have enough to eat. It was that bad, really. I liked to draw my friends, the people around me. These were close relationships, I saw that. We shared each other’s lives. Mostly I recorded stories – feelings about life in society where we need to love each other and stick close.

Ideas, concepts – How were they?

I worked, wanting my work to be something connected with myself. I thought I was an artist. To be an artist was to really practice, not necessarily studying this way or that too much. There was a lot of theory, but at heart I looked for a way, a pattern, a way forward to present. At one point I was able to throw it all away and go ahead on my own.

The latest works in which you painted your daughter – What was your idea?

I made those because I was greatly at odds with society. My greatest happiness in life, aside from art, is my family. I have a child and a wife who encourage me. I have friends who help me. At the same time, I saw society from another perspective. I saw the illusoriness of it all, based in darkness and wickedness. There are many things which are not right, but which people think can give them happiness. Women who disrobe and have their pictures taken: this is the stupidity of society. People say it is beautiful, but it creates sin in those who see such pictures and are filled with lust.

I don’t make pictures to insult women but to point to women who suffer in the hands of capitalism. They have to show themselves naked and sell the photos. To me, the real hell and the real enemy are capitalism and the stupidity of ignorance. Our foundation is Thai culture: these things should not be happening. Artists are like people who send out information for people elsewhere to grasp.

What are you trying to express in your latest works?

It’s rather like hell, the hell inside us. It depends on how much you see it. The works are about ignorance and self, punishment, delusion, lust, losing oneself in power, and transformation. A work of art can tell a story, entering into the life of humanity. It can tell how to survive in a materialistic world. These are big problems in our society. I try to communicate, to show the pain, the emerging hell.

You use the image of newspapers wrapped around lotus. Can you tell us about that?
... The newspaper represents news of daily life. The news can be good or bad, but it affects us directly. I used the newspaper wrapping the lotus to represent the psychology of society. The lotus represents Buddhism, human wisdom, like the four stages of a lotus. I’m interested in these symbols as representations of awareness. They are concrete, and everyone can understand them.

This society of ours is full of myriad stories which we retell in art as if opening a door. The last thing I hope for is fame. But what I hope very much for is not to make art which has only superficial beauty. I want my art to reflect society, to create value for myself and for those around me. I want society to be better. As for myself, I’m poor, but I don’t surrender to my fate. And I try to create something good in the world, because I see that human value lies precisely in this. As A. Thawan has said, it is the artists who are the true life of the Thai artworld.

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