In the year 1913 the
Thai government opened a School of Arts and Crafts
with the principal purpose to train teachers of design
and to carry on the teaching of the arts of embossed silverware,
work, and wood carving in the traditional style. Only
since a few years ago, particularly after the impulse
given to the art teaching by the painter, Mr. Chit Buabusaya,
painting and modelling are taught also in that school
with proper and definite programmes.
In A.D. 1934 the Fine Arts Department, realising the
necessity of a revival of arts in Thailand, opened a School
of Fine Arts to train young Thai in painting and sculpture.
In 1943, H.E. the Premier, Field Marshal Pibulsonggram
raised this school to the rank of University (Faculty
of Sculpture and Painting).
The writer was responsible for organising the said School
of Fine Arts in the Fine Arts Department and so witnessed
the daily artistic progress of those Thai youths that
at present are the majority of the Thai artists belonging
to the new generation.
By tutoring these youths we tried to avoid any interference
with their personal artistic tendency with the result
that we succeeded in a variety of expressions corresponding
to the natural temperament of each student.
Illustrations of some works of these young artists
will clarify the idea about their personal styles.
|| Fig3. Prasong Pathmanuja. "Wat
Phra Keo", 1949
|| Fig4. Prasong Pathmanuja. "Dancers",
1951 . A peculiar style of the artist retaining
the characteristic of the traditional painting.
With figures 3
4 we reproduce two paintings made by Prasong Pathmanuja.
This artist was born a painter-decorator with a peculiar
tendency to modern expressions. Nobody influenced him
to do in that style-it was simply due to his natural disposition.
3 is Wat Pra Keo rendered in cubistic style, while
4 represents two Thai girl- dancers in modern Thai
|| Fig5. Khien Yimsiri. "Fantastic
Trees", 1953. Flowing lines and harmonious volumes
are the peculiarities of this Thai sculptor.
|| Fig6. Sitthidet Sanghiran.
"The last Quest", 1950. "...and after where shall
I go?, what shall I be..." A realistic style veiled
with romantic feeling.
|| Fig7. Sawang Songmangmee. "Blossoming
Flower", 1949. ...for the first time the girl seems
to meditate about the complexity of life. A realistic
style veiled with romantic feeling.
Another artist "son of our age", is Khien Yimsiri. When
this sculptor is free from routine official works, his
fantasy wonders in a world of flowing lines and harmonious
plastic volumes. Nai Khien Yimsiri is an admirer of the
charming small statuettes made in glazed clay of the
Sukhothai period (13th-15th century A.D.) from which
he gets inspiration for his modern creations.
Figs. 6 and 7 illustrate two statues of two sculptors
whose temperament and style are quite opposite to those
of the two artists mentioned above. Figure 6, modelled
by Sitthidet Sanghiran, represents the "Last Quest" .
An old man reaching the extreme limit of his life gropes
in the void of darkness to find the answer to his last
query "and after where shall I go?. What shall I be?".
The other statue illustrated with fig. 7 "The Blossoming
Flower" was made by Sawang Songmangmee, portraying a girl
who seems to meditate for the first time in her life about
the complexity of the world.
|| Fig8. Paitun Muangsomboon "Colt",
(1950) This artist was born a sculptor of animals.
|| Fig9. Paitun Muangsomboon "Calf",
Again, another artist gifted by nature with peculiarity
of expression is Paitun Muangsomboon. He is born a sculptor
of animals, indeed since a mere boy his cherished subjects
were animals. Paitun Muangsomboon is able to model human
figure fairly well, but it is when with modelling-stand
and clay in the zoological garden of Bangkok that his
artistic qualities are at the best. Figs.
|| Fig10. Apai Saratanti. "Life
of the Thai", 1953 .
|| Fig11. Sanit Distaphundhu.
"Boat Racing", 1952. A Modern composition having
the characteristics of design and style of old traditional
The style of this decorative panel retains the spirit of
old mural painting. Fig. 10 is a decorative panel representing
"Life of the Thai" made by Apai Saratanti, a student of
the third year of the University of Fine Arts. Being the
work of a very young fellow, one may find matter for criticism,
but what we like to remark is the fact that the style of
this young artist is a blending of the old and modern characteristics.
Indeed we would like to see this combination of styles more
and more developed for decorative purposes.
Fig. 11 " Boat Racing" by Sanit Distpundhu, is an attempt
to modernize old art. It is evident that conventional
forms and ideas limit the individual power of expression.
Nevertheless, the attempt is worthy of remark so much
that we hope other Thai artists may try also in this line
to see whether it is possible to create something original.
In illustrating works of the Thai artists in different
styles we wish to draw the attention of the reader to
the fact that what these young artists express, (outside
of official works which more or less must be done in a
style to meet the general approval), is sincerely done.
They are not yet so intellectually complexed to impose
a style to themselves, thus any criticism concerning the
relationship of their production with foreign production
cannot stand an objective analysis. Of course, as we have
already emphasized, these young Thai, like the European,
American, Japanese etc., live amidst a universal culture
and so if we note in the works of art connection of expression
between east and west, this is not due to reciprocal imitation,
it is due to a new afflux of intellectual and artistic
ideas which serve to renew reciprocally exhausted forms
and conceptions of the old western and eastern arts.
If we consider that it is less than fifteen years since
this generation of artists has started to produce modern
art and consider also the fact that this artistic movement
is localized to the capital of Thailand, we think that
everyone interested in the
culture of this country may look forward to the future
with assurance that it will not be long before modern
art will be more intensified, particularly through the
moral and the financial support of the Thai government
and the Thai upper class.
Without such a support young artists do some work only
in their start with enthusiasm but are obliged after-wards
to accept any position or do any commercial work for their
to the Modern Art in Thailand..