Art in Thailand

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It is pretty well documented and that too pretty extensively, how old Asia in terms of sciences, cultures, kingdoms and human settlements is. Be it the very well known Indus valley civilisation, the Persian empire or the Chinese dynasties, Asia has a lion’s share in the refinement of human intellect development. Thailand is one such country that has got a long history with its earliest human habitation dating twenty thousand years. Some of the earliest pieces of evidence of bronze and copper metal products are found in modern-day Thailand. These artefacts are almost a thousand years old. These being the oldest findings in terms of copperware and bronzeware the whole region. This kind of history has had its impact on the art in Thailand.

Art has its fair share in the history of Thailand’s history. With the earliest instances and examples of art in Thailand dating almost 700 years, art in Thailand has come a long way. A lot of Thai art seems to be influenced by Indian culture and religious epics of Hinduism. Although Thailand is primarily a Buddhist country with religious figures centred exclusively around Buddha and His images, references to Hinduism show through extensively in its culture. These references are available in the form of illustrations, figurines and ornamentations on the walls and parapets of palaces, buildings and temples or in old traditional Thai texts. The oldest art forms found in Thailand refer to ceramic and metal cast images of Buddha. The art that developed later from this period saw Buddha images being created in large bronze or brick and stucco. Use of a lot of Gold decorations also started in this period. Paintings and paint-work were similarly heavily influenced by the life of Buddha although the depictions were done in the context of stories derived from Hindu epics.

Fishery by Thongchai Rakpathum | Commission An Artist |
Fishery by Thongchai Rakpathum

The contemporary art scene in Thailand is rich, prolific and covers a wide range of themes. It is fed well by a large pool of very well known and talented artists that are appreciated for their quality work, in the society. The Thai social scene is well populated with thriving artistic events that not just showcase the quality of the local art but also popularise the local artists and stimulate innovation.

Nang Yai by Kamol Tassananchalee | Commission An Artist |
Nang Yai by Kamol Tassananchalee

National Exhibition of Art is one of the oldest events that has celebrated the Thai artists around the country for more than 60 years. Although, in its first year, but The Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 (BAB 2018) has already been booked as one of the most popular art events in Bangkok. Spanning 30-plus nationalities, around 75 artists are being invited to the festival. The exhibition will take place around a wide geographical area including ancient temples, historically important architectural sites and other places that represent the cultural pulse of the country. Bukruk Urban Arts Festival is a popular street art festival that was organised around iconic landmarks around Bangkok. An eclectic art festival that was held under the name of Hotel Art Fair Bangkok in the month of June in 2017, in which thirty art galleries took part turned out to be a widely popular art exhibition. There are other art exhibitions that are held in different parts of the country which showcase different contemporary artists.

Tavatimsa by Chalood Nimsamer | Commission An Artist |
Tavatimsa by Chalood Nimsamer

There have been a number of new and upcoming artists in Thailand who have gained recognition and popularity. The government of Thailand, too, recognises the work in the different fields of art and confer a few with the title of The National Artist. This title is generally awarded on the National Artist Day and those awarded start getting monthly payouts from the government. Fua Haripitak – an avid painter – received the award for the first time in 1985. Thawan Duchanee is another Thai painter who enjoyed a worldwide reputation. Chakrabhand Posayakrit, Kamol Tassananchalee and Chalood Nimsamer are a few popular contemporary artists from Thailand who have made a lot of name for themselves and contributed a lot to the field of art.