The last time I was in Phuket Thailand I was pleasantly surprised to find a hidden art gallery just outside the tourist area of Patong beach. As I entered the D Gallery I was blown away by how modern the artists represented in the gallery were and pleased to see that their artists were predominately Thai. Returning there this summer I sought to find out more about one of my favourites of the artists whose work I saw last year.
The artist's name is Thaweesak Srithongdee and he he has built an impressive resume, emerging from a country whose artists are often overlooked. Thaweesak’s solo exhibitions have included shows in England, Netherlands, Singapore, as well as group exhibitions in Paris, Tokyo, and Germany and other European cities. He is also currently a professor at Bangkok’s Silpakorn University.
His paintings focus on his fascinations with the future and war. In the exhibition Soldier he created 20 paintings that focused on the idea of war and conflict and how it is inextricably entwined with youth. The paintings consider how susceptible young men are to manipulation. “Teenagers can be brainwashed and manipulated," says the artist. "They form a fundamental part of the war machine.” The series also touches on who is involved in the machinations of war – the instigators, the victims and the downright absurdity of it all.
His work is also deeply entrenched in notions of the fantastical. “I’m curious about what humans might be concealing beneath their outer shells," he says. "They appear normal but in fact could be extra-terrestrials.” Other paintings deal with androgyny. While Thai’s culture seems very liberal in their acceptance of sex, and transgender individuals, his paintings reflect this acceptance through sexually ambiguous individuals.