Phonphan Wichukijmonkol is a newer generation of Thai artist who constantly creates art works. Most of his works are quickly reserved by art collectors. After Phonphan graduated from Princess Sirindhorn's College, he went to further his education at the faculty of Fine and Applied Arts Communication Design, Bangkok University.
Phonphan has participated in several projects in Thailand such as the Art for Cancer project to help poor patients who suffered from Cancer as well as the Rama Foundation and the National Cancer Institute. He also designed leaflets, T- shirts, and bags for the Friends of the Asian Elephants Foundation and he constantly submit his works for auctions. Moreover, he joined in the performance and 38th Bualuang Art Contest.
He is regarded as a young artist who plays a good role in Thai society. He works hard every day and his works are very eye-catching for art collectors. In January, February 2016, he had a group art exhibition, "The Four Elements", with other three young artists in Bangkok and then in March 2016 he joined the group exhibition "100 Arts for the King".
Here is an interview with him:
JY: What is your view about happiness and impressions of your work?
PW: In my view, if we are happy and impressed with our works, it feels like we can do something we love without forcing ourselves. On top of that, doing what we love also gives us more income and happiness. For me, it seems like we get double profit. It makes me feel so good to be able to do things towards my set goals
JY: How were you inspired to become an artist?
PW: My inspiration to become an artist began when was young. Back then I didn’t know what an artist was. There were three things that have inspired me since I was a child. The first one was ancient Egyptian arts. I used to draw images of a pharaoh’s face and the sphinx. Thai mythological Naga was the second one I liked to draw. At that time, when I went to the temples, I was fond of hugging statues of Naga. For me, it looked so surreal. I got so many questions in my mind. Are the Nagas snakes? Why do they have crests? Why are their scales like snake scales? Why are their eyes so red? And why do they look so fierce? For the last one, I like to observe human physiology. It helps me see various movements of people.
JY: What are the similarities and differences in your work from the past to present?
PW: I think my present works are somewhat different from my past ones. In the past, my work concepts were solely focused on Buddhist philosophy. There was almost no available space for personal emotions towards society or my personal issues. Time passed by, my skills have improved considerably and my concepts and visions have broadened. All of these factors make my works different. If people see and compare my old and new works, they will immediately notice the different feelings among my works from then to now. Increasingly, I used color tones that look surreal for my presentation to show uniqueness. For my view of past works, I would like to say they have their own beauty in their time, full of youthfulness and eagerness for experimentation.
JY: Tell us about your concepts and techniques?
PW: For the most part, Buddhist philosophies are used in my work: such as diligence and the four-noble truths. The main reason is that I want to teach people with my paintings. Besides the beauty and feeling, they should gain something like moral teachings to ponder about. In my technique, I mainly use oil colors as base mixed with acrylic colors and gold sheets to create a Thai style in the painting without drawing any Thai traditional patterns.
JY: What about your personal background.
PW: I came from a normal family with moderate income. During my childhood, it was a bit difficult for me if I wanted something for myself but I couldn’t ask my parents for money to buy it for me so I had to work hard to get it by myself. This was my parents’ way of teaching. For my high school education, I went to study in the English program at Princess Sirindhorn’s college. At that time, I really wanted to enroll at Poh Chang Academy of Arts but my parents didn’t approve of my choice. After finishing high school, I went to study for a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Design at Bangkok University. Initially, my parents didn’t support my decision as they believed the artist profession was poor. Then I had to prove to them that I wasn’t that poor and told them that I started working and earned some money to support myself. In the third year of my study, I began
painting on canvases. The first two paintings were collected by my art teacher.
JY: How do you explain to people in Thailand and abroad about Thai arts?
PW: I tell them that Thailand is a peaceful and livable country. It is a land of art and culture. In Europe, there are significant periods of art such as Renaissance and Victorian. In Thailand, however, we have the Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, U-thong dynasties. In each period, the patterns and art styles were rather different. In the Sukhothai period, Buddha images were elegant and their faces were kind. Due to frequent wars, Buddha images in the Ayutthaya period had more serious faces. In the U-thong period, the sculpting of Buddha images was influenced by Khmer art so their faces were quite different form Buddha images in other periods. At this time, Thai art was gradually recognized by people around the world. We have many talented and masterful artists. I would like to invite everyone to see Thai art. I personally think that Thai traditional patterns could bring an
enhanced attention of foreigners because they have none of these in their countries. Chalermchai Kositpipat is an artist who skillfully adapts the Thai traditional patterns in his paintings in a contemporary art style.
JY: And your recent art exhibitions?
PW: I participated in Bualuang Art Contest in 2016. During that year, I had two art exhibitions called "100 Artists for the King" and "The Four Elements" held at E’SAC Bangkok. I'm impressed with all of them. Seeing works of others broadens my vision and I can evaluate myself at the same time. I've already planned for upcoming art exhibition, but not during this year. For me, this year is the time I start working seriously because I want every set of my works to be the best. After completing them, I would like to have a grand solo exhibition.
JY: What do you think about art collectors who collected your works?
PW: I think people who collect my works might love art works that look powerful and contain Buddhist philosophy. They might be visionary and benevolent philanthropists who are energetic, thoughtful and self-confident. Naturally, not many art collectors collect works of only one particular artist. There are many artists and good artworks for them to look for. Most art collectors who love my works think my works look powerful and worth-buying. From my own observation, most Thai art collectors love to buy paintings with lots of details.
JY: Some final words?
PW: Art is not a distant thing. Actually, it is very close to everyone. All of us can learn, understand and improve it to a higher level. In my opinion, art is reachable and comprehensible for us if we study properly . Then we might find something good from these meaningful artworks