By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul
WITH THE people of Thailand preparing to bid a final farewell to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej next month, the Kitarat Foundation is joining venues around the country in celebrating the much-loved monarch’s musical and artistic talent with the exhibition, “Music & Art from the Land of Prosperity”.
Part of “The Royal Legacy – 365 Days of Remembrance” project, the exhibition at the Quartier Gallery features oils by 19 artists inspired by 19 of the late King’s musical compositions.
Widsanupong Noonan, who exhibits in Singapore and Taiwan as well as at home, has take the song “Waeo” (“Echo”), considered the King’s most charming.
“This English name of this song brought to mind the sound you hear when you lift a conch shell to your ear. I remember trying this as a kid – holding the conch shell up to my ear and hearing the sound of the ocean. And the conch shell also reminds me of a wedding ceremony, which goes well with the lines ‘Though time is unforgiving, I know, our love will linger on for eternity.’ The woman in this painting represents both the wedding ceremony and love,” says the Nakhon Pathom-born artist, who is best known for his realistic figurative paintings of the fairer sex.
“This is first time I have used oils on fibreglass rather than canvas and mixed in a sculpture of this conch shell. The mood in the painting changes depending on where it is placed, which gives it spirit.”
Artist Suriya Namwong, who has a store at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bangkok and created “The Chronicle of the Land” for Phra Maha Vudhijaya Vajiramedhi’s Rai Chern Tawan Meditation Centre in Chiang Rai, worked from the 1954 waltz “Lom Nao” (“Love in Spring”).
“HM the late King composed this song and performed it for the first time a week before Valentine’s Day. It’s about love that’s so happy that it makes us feel everything around us is beautiful. When I listen to the song, I feel like the King is still with us. It also made me think of my first love, of long hair blowing in the wind as birds soar and dip all around. In fact, the woman in the painting is not my first love but a beautiful icon symbolising love. The expression in her smiling face and eyes is very important,” says the Roi-Et-born artist.
Thanarit Thipwaree, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts at Silpakorn University, has interpreted 1959’s “Fun” (“Dream”), the first song on which the King experimented with Western sounds.
“I think dreams and reality are one and the same. All that separates them is the situation. When a dream comes true, it disappears. Every dream becomes reality. My two paintings show the dark and bright sides of a girl’s face. The dark side looks scary but the image is sharp – a clear black rose against a blurred pink rose on the other side, the hunter versus the hunted. The dark side represents sympathy while the happy side is deceitful. I painted on linen, which is considered the finest fabric in the world. It gives more feeling than canvas calico,” he explains.
Chiang Rai-based artist Songdej Thipthong is best known for his Buddhist art and has stuck to this style in interpreting “Thewa Pha Khu Fun” (“Dream of Love, Dream of You”).
“It’s a sad song yet it makes us feel hopeful and happy. My interpretation is dreamlike, like praying for love from a deity, I used acrylic colours with gold leaf in the traditional Thai style,” says Songdej, who is currently painting murals at Wat Suthiwararam.
Surin-born Phet Cherdklin has been associated with elephants since his childhood and these magnificent beasts have influenced his painting. He says this new painting, inspired by the royal song “Paendin Khong Rao” (“Alexandra”), has the same concept as his “Paendin Siam”.
“The lyrics of the song talk about our country’s prosperity, beauty and values. My interpretation is based on three institutions – the nation, the religion and the monarchy. I interpret the nation through a map of Thailand, the religion with temples and castles, and the monarchy with parts of a palace and Garuda. It’s easy to understand,” he says.
Thongchai Srisukprasert , who created the much-admired painting inspired by the late monarch’s composition “Klai Rung” on his 88th birthday, now interprets s “Chata Cheewit” (“Hungry Men’s Blues”).
“The Thai name of the song is sad – it literally translates as “the destiny of life”. It is like our destiny without HM the late King. We are flying alone without the one who always encouraged us at our side. I believe every Thai felt this way after the death of the King. One verse of the song talks about a bird flying alone, while another verse is about a moon symbolising the King’s birthday and a rabbit representing his Chinese zodiac sign. I compare the moon to the king who shone the light on his people and use the bird’s eye to indicate that the golden earth is full of many royal projects such as Royal Irrigation Development and Royal Rain Project,” says Thongchai.
Other artists taking part in the show are Rearngsak Boonyavanishkul with “Saeng Thian” (“Candlelight Blues”), Sa-ngiam Yarangsee with “Yam Yen” (“Love at Sundown”), Preecha Thaothong with “Sai Fon” (“Falling Rain”), Ekachai Luadsoongern with “Klai Rung” (“Near Dawn”), Pornchai Chaima with “Phon Pi Mai” (“New Year Greetings”), Likit Nisetanakarn with “Yam Kam” (“Twilight”), Lampu Kansanoh with “Yim Su” (“Smiles”), Arnan Ratchawang-inn with “Kham Laeo” (“Lullaby”), Surasit Saokong with “Saeng Duean” (“Magic Beams”), Theekawut Boonvijit with “Phirom Rak” (“A Love Story”), Nitikorn Kraivixien with “Nai Duang Chai Niran” (“Still on My Mind”), Surathin Tatana with “Kwam Fun An Sungsud” (“The Noblest Dream”), and Nipon Jungkina with “Rao Su” (“We Shall Fight”).
The opening of the show featured Assistant Professor Dr Pathorn Srikanon, a member of Au Sau Wan Suk Royal Musical Band, accompanying a live painting demonstration led by Preecha Thaothong and Chalermchai Kositpipat.
This event is like sending our king off to heaven,” Dr Pathorn told XP.
TRIBUTE TO TALENT
- “Music & Art from the Land of Prosperity” continues at Quartier Gallery on the M floor of The EmQuartier Shopping Complex through September 24.
- The shopping centre is open daily from 10am to 9pm.
- Follow information and activities at www.Facebook.com/KitaratFoundation.