By Phatarawadee Phataranawik
NATIONAL Artist Chalood Nimsamer passed away early yesterday at Siriraj Hospital, succumbing to a blood infection. He was 86 and is survived by his only daughter.
“In the passing away of Chalood Nimsamer, Thailand has lost a pioneering Thai conceptual artist and valuable educator. Ajarn Chalood is recognised as Thai artists’ mentor. He laid the foundations for conceptual art and education at Silpakorn and other art institutes in Thailand,” said Amrit Choosuwan, dean of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts at Silpakorn University. Amrit had visited Chalood at his Bangkok studio in January.
Chalood studied under Prof Silp Bhirasri, known as the father of modern Thai art, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Silpakorn University in Bangkok and going on to earn a diploma in fine arts from the Accademia di Belle Arti in Italy before studying lithography at the Pratt Graphic Centre in New York.
As a multi-disciplinary artist, Chalood was renowned as a master of various forms.
He was recognised with a slew of prestigious awards and his works feature in the collections of private and public museums in Thailand and abroad. He was named a National Artist in Sculpture in 1998.
Regarded as a pioneer of the Kingdom’s conceptual art movement, Chalood created the “Rural Environmental Sculpture” series in 1982. Inspired by the simple way of life enjoyed by rural Thais, he used objects found in daily life to create his experimental art projects.
He began by hanging and placing the objects on a tree stump then moved towards hanging the objects on his own body as a means of expressing the relationship between humans and nature in rural Thailand.
Also renowned as an art educator, Chalood founded the departments of Graphic Arts and Thai Art at Silpakorn University, where he taught from the time he graduated up until last week, when he was admitted to hospital. National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat was among the first students at the Contemporary Thai Art Department.
In 2013, the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre hosted “Chalood’s Mural Painting and Retrospective” – his last major exhibition. The show highlighted the latest series of 400 paintings.
Entering through a life-size door – an ink-jet print depicting his installation “Baan Krua Dam - viewers viewed a A2-size mural painting series. These contemporary murals portray his experience as an artist and depict his signature figures of women and children in traditional Thai costumes – blouse and phasin (sarong). The ink drawings and acrylic paintings on saa paper symbolise purity and gentleness and are inspired by nature and culture,
Chalood long held that working on his art every day was key to a peaceful mind – a kind of natural dharma he practised.
The exhibition included works from his “Dharma Silpa” series, works he painted between 1987 and 1996 without any intention of conveying Buddhist meanings but rather as a tool to show that his mindset was nurtured by dharma. The works have a simplistic form with a serene structure and soft colour tone that please the eye. The series reflects the purity of a calm and free mind that is the result of a meditational state.
Chalood’s masterpieces are lodged in his private collection as well as at Silpakorn University and the private Museum of Contemporary Art owned by IT tycoon Boonchai Benjarongkul.
The funeral bathing ritual will be held at 5pm on Sunday at Wat Thepsirin.