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Reflection of Life in Lotus Leaf
Pratuang Emjaroen
■Year 1980
■Medium oil on canvas
■Size (cm)
In Thailand, decorative paintings with Buddhist themes are still popular today. Although this work deals with a Buddhist theme, namely a lotus leaf, its characteristics lie in a unique spiritual world expressed without relying on traditional icons or styles. The excessive magnification of the details and the use of primary colors seen here remind us of the techniques used in the film billboards which Pratuang Emjaroen experienced as a youth. Of greater importance, however, is his concept of nature which holds that the macrocosmos of nature dwells even within the microcosmos of a lotus leaf. This view of nature is also reflected in the expression of light, which decomposes sunlight into primal colors like a prism and which gives radiance to even the minutest details. He studied paintings amidst poverty and in the 1970s, he dealt with social and political issues of Thailand supporting the student movements against the military government. Perhaps this work, too, embodies his wish to relieve the sufferings inflicted upon by the real society.
Battle of Mara
Thawan Duchanee
■Year 1989
■Medium oil, enamel and gold-leaf on canvas
■Size (cm)
In the middle of the huge monochrome canvas, there is a face of Buddha in meditation, surrounded by diabolical Mara (evil spirits). The snarling face is depicted furiously, and the physical beauty violently. The simple drawing methods in black and white intensifies this vehement force even further. Nevertheless, Thawan Duchanee's works, which at times include sexual depictions, were regarded as a blasphemy against Buddhism and developed into one big shocking event. That is to say, in 1971, soon after returning from Holland where he had studied for five years, many of his works were torn by more than eighty students. In his internal world, such abominably oppressive depictions coexist - instead of breaking up - with the serene state of enlightenment. The shock created at that time is fully conveyed through this piece of work which retains his ever vigorous depicting power.
Dok Peep, Where Does One Go after Death ?
Chatchai Puipia
■Year 1997
■Medium oil on canvas
■Size (cm)
After graduating from Silpakorn, a prestigious university in the art world of Thailand, in 1986, Chatchai Puipia has successively won prizes in major art exhibitions, and has continued to weave new images from reality surrounding him. In this work, the huge head of the artist himself, as if cut off from the neck, lies on a ground dyed red. In fact, this eery image apparently derives from the impressions he received at the sight of the dying eyes of his father, whom he was tending. And white flowers, which are decorated at Thai funerals, are about to fall onto his vacant eyes wide open. Did the artist address the question of his father's death to these white flowers? The heart-rending afterglow of life is reflected in the huge image of death covering the entire canvas.
Musical Rhythm
Khien Yimsiri
■Year 1949
■Medium bronze
■Size (cm)
The slender and lustrous limbs and the elegant posture playing the flute. The pose of slightly bending the head in order to breathe into the flute and of gently swaying the body produces graceful curves from the nape to the back down to the hips. Khien Yimsiri achieved this elegant corporal expression by modelling after the Sukothai sculpture in the classic Thai style. The charms of this work go even further to the big toes that bend backwards, and the lips which turn slightly upwards. In this refined portrait, the highly strung tension at the very moment of playing the flute is created. This is a masterpiece born as a piece of Thai modern art which was not a mere revival of classic styles. Having mastered Western realistic sculpture techniques at Silpakorn University, the base of Thai modern art, none other than Khien Yimsiri could have succeeded in producing this work filled with tension.
Montien Boonma
■Year 1992
■Medium terra-cotta, steal and gold leaf
■Size (cm)
Montien Boonma, who returned to his country in 1988 after his 3-year study in Paris, proved himself to be like a powerful stimulant to the art world of Thailand in those days. This is because he himself presented innovative works and, at the same time, fostered many talented students mainly at Chiang Mai University. In this work, whose theme is religious mendicancy, the ordinary and traditional motif of the Buddhist country, Thailand, has been transformed into a refined and modern image. It is a work that makes us feel invisible things. Here, instead of directly putting into hand shapes holding the bowls, it suggests the existence by leaving the marks of the act of holding on the clay. And the upper part of this serious work is supported by thin sharp-edged legs. The solid volume and delicate moulding often stand upon a fragile tension, and that is intended to stimulate the viewer's perception further.
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