The Truth of Art was a retrospective exhibition held in 2015, It was Thangchalok‘s first exhibition after five years of coping with Parkinson‘s syndrome.
The article from his book is strongly touching, The Journey of Parkinson’s line was the name of his exhibition in collaboration with artist friends. I received his catalog book and I found he loved to draw Japanese cartoons when he was young and loves drawing portraits until he found abstract art.
For over 10 years as an interviewer, I’ve been surprised to see the change in representative artists, whom I knew for a long time, as they end up creating abstract art. I had tried to see what they were thinking about the way of art or how they wanted to express themselves. This was the question in my mind. But then I heard the word suitable to select something that they admired. It was not the rule. Just the preference.
Space No.4 45x41 cm. Etching 1971
Thangchalok’s Abstract ideas begin with his observation of the appearance of objects. Step by step, he develops his viewing method. Similarly, in visual art practice, the artist simplifies the representative appearances of objects and transforms them into an image that reflects his abstract perception.
With my view, he tried to explain the meaning of Abstract Art:Itwas a medium that is a pictorial language to express the balance that came from the artist’s knowledge and art and cultural background
Wall E 45.5x61 cm. Etching 1978
In our conversation, he explained that Abstract Art is not the ultimate art form, not superior to others. It is just the way an artist presents the freedom of his expression.
Here is the interview
JY: Tell me about your interest and inspiration.
Tower of Fire 122x320 cm. Acrylic, Oil and Acrylic Epoxy Aerosol Paint
on Metallic Paper Mounted on Plywood with Woodcut 1991
IT: As far as I can remember, my only interest in my childhood was art. Back then I practiced drawing alone. Unlike other boys at my age, I didn’t play any sport and preferred being alone to socializing with friends because drawing needs concentration, silence and time. Hence, my people relations are not so good. It is my weak point and shortcoming up to the present.
As a child, I started drawing cartoon characters without inspiration from anyone. I didn’t truly know what art was and didn’t recognize any artist. What attracted me were movie posters in front of the cinemas. I loved to observe people who made movie posters. My father then sent me to one of his friends who was a cinema owner. Finally, I was a trainee of a movie poster painter. My duties were washing colors, cleaning paintbrushes and enlarging pictures on the frame. The time I spent there was quite short during the school break in secondary school.
Two Pages of Modern Scripture 7/34 122x204 cm. Acrylic, Oil and Acrylic Epoxy Aerosol Paint on Metallic Paper Mounted on Plywood with Painted Wood and Woodcut 1991
After I enrolled in the College of Fine Arts, I was delighted that I could learn all the art subjects I dreamt of. I determined to fully study and devote my time to drawing. Some other subjects such as Thai architecture and Thai traditional patterns were not popular so not many students were interested in selecting them but I learned them all. At the year’s end I participated in art competitions in every category available such as drawing, painting, sculpting and composition. Every year I received awards. In the first year I got three awards, the second year five awards and the third year nine awards. When I went on the stage to receive the awards, my fellow underclassmen were excited because they heard my name in the announcements of all the contests.
The Legend of Water and Fire 282x2,200 cm. Oil and Acrylic Epoxy
Aerosol Paint on Formica 1996
During my time in College of Fine Arts, I got good scores because my artistic skills were good. However, when I entered SilpakornUniversity, I felt a bit letdown because some of my good works received low scores while many of my inferior ones got better scores. At that time, I didn’t understand the principles of artistic drawing, that I had to be more emotional and have feelings towards reality and beauty. This required constant learning bit by bit to be able to understand and make it work. There was no subject that taught this and the students had to observe, think and study everything by themselves until they could understand and use all these principles well enough.
Fluent 110x160 cm. Oil on Paper Mounted on Plywood with
Regarding art, I believe that personal talent is only a small part. Most important—love and faith in the art. The more love and faith you have, the more you have to devote yourself with determination. I loved to do research and read so I started to collect art books and observe others’ works for training to analyze, criticize and evaluate artworks. Before drawing a building, I always looked at drawings of buildings done by others to see how they work. There was no need for the lecturer to tell you to do this as everything can be learning. Even the subject of Anatomy that the majority of students didn’t like is very significant to learn and draw as accurately as possible because it is the fundamental of drawing a human being.
When I reached the fourth year at SilpakornUniversity, I decided to select my major as Graphic Arts which was open for three academic years at this university. At that time there was a major like creative fine arts but I chose Graphic Arts instead. My reason is that we can create paintings easily by ourselves but Graphic Arts has unique techniques that need to be learned from the lecturer. Moreover, all equipment and materials are provided by the faculty so we don’t have to buy them by ourselves. Apart from learning techniques and all four processes of Graphic Arts, the most important thing is to learn how to work systematically and step by step. In my view, the processes of Graphic Arts train students to be more disciplined and hardworking.
1,728 Dots 122x159.5 cm. Acrylic on Formica and Wood 2000
Another important discovery I found during learning Graphic Arts is that technique is more than a tool. It can transform back to contents or styles to create unique beauty. Technique can also lead to thought, story or meaning. I finally know how to deal with new materials, instruments, colors, tools and what can they do. First, I have to familiarize myself with all equipment and materials and then think about what can be used in my work. This could create the way of thinking, styles and forms. These things are what I learned, discovered and used as a technical process from then till now. Sometimes when I cannot think about something, I will start with technique by finding, researching and experimenting new techniques. Not only is it fun, it could also bring about new stories, contents and forms.
JY: Tell me about yourself, your education and career.
Dusk 120x155 cm. Acrylic on Canvas 2003
IT: I have been staying on the path to create abstract art for over 50 years. My works up to the present comprise more than 600 pieces including drawing, Graphic Arts, painting and sculpting. At the present, I am retired for over 12 years but I can still be a senior professional lecturer for the fourth-year, the fifth-year students and doctorate degree students in the faculty of painting, sculpture and graphic arts. I have also been the judge for many art competitions such as National Art Exhibition, Government Savings Bank Art Competition and Krung Thai Bank Art Competition. These days, I still create more artworks unceasingly. My date of birth is 12 February 1946.
Horizontal and Vertical Bands 145x195 cm. Acrylic
on Canvas 2005
1970 - Bachelor of arts (Graphic Arts), First class honour, the faculty of painting, sculpture and graphic arts, SilpakornUniversity.
1975 - Master of Fine Arts, University of Washington, USA (Thai government scholarship).
1983 - Certificate of Theory and practice for higher education, Monash University, Australia,
Chance and Order 130x195 cm. Acrylic on Canvas 2007
1991 - Solo Exhibition “New Fine Arts”, National Gallery.
2000 - Solo Exhibition “Color of light”, Suraphol Gallery.
2001 - Solo Exhibition “Matter of the Mind”PSGArtGallery, SilpakornUniversity.
2006 - Solo Exhibition “A Primal Spirit” PSGArtGallery,SilpakornUniversity.
2006 - Solo Exhibition “Intuition and Intellect” PSGArtGallery,SilpakornUniversity.
2013 - Solo Exhibition “Alphabet” ARDEL Gallery of Modern Art.
2015 - A Retrospective Exhibition “Abstract: The Truth of Art” Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Wall of Faith 115x160 cm. Acrylic on Canvas 2012
Awards and Prestige
1969 - Third class honour, Bronze medal (Graphic Arts) 19th National Art Exhibition.
1970 - First class honour, Gold medal (Graphic Arts) 20th National Art Exhibition.
1972 - First class honour, Gold medal (Graphic Arts) 21st National Art Exhibition.
- Award from Karlovac, The 3rd International Exhibition of Original Drawings, Rejeka Yugoslavia.
1974 - Third class honour, Bronze medal (Graphic Arts) 22nd National Art Exhibition.
1976 - Gold medal (Graphic Arts), Bangkok Metropolitan Bank Contemporary Art Exhibition.
1977 - Second class honour, Silver medal (Graphic Arts) 24th National Art Exhibition.
- Third class honour, Bronze medal (Graphic Arts) 24th National Art Exhibition.
- First Award (Fine Arts) 3rd Bualuang Fine Arts Competition.
1978 - Biennale Prize, 4th Norwegian International Print Biennale, Norway.
- “Medal Prize” from 5th International Exhibition of Graphic Arts, Frechen,West Germany.
1979 - First class honour, Gold medal (Graphic Arts) 25th National Art Exhibition.
- Honored to be Artist of Distinction in Graphic Arts from National Art Exhibition.
- First Prize Winner from Contemporary Art Competition, Thai Farmer’s Bank.
1993 - Top Award Winner (The 1st Category) in Mural Painting and Award Winner (The 3rd Category) in Sculpting, Muang Thai Pattara Complex Art Competition, Bangkok.
2009 - Selected to be a National Artist in Visual Arts (Fine Arts).
2014 - Received Honorary doctorate degree in Visual Arts from BuraphaUniversity.
- Received brooch and certificate for Government Scholarship Student for 2012 – 2013
2018 - Received 3rd Thawan Arts and Culture Prize in Fine Arts
Falling Man 55x75 cm. Oil Marker on Paper 2014
Present and Upcoming Exhibitions
- Participate in 35th exhibition for lecturers of the faculty of painting, sculpture and graphic arts, SilpakornUniversity.
- Participate in Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, Bangkok.
- Participate in Thailand Biennale 2018, KrabiProvince.
- Participate in Thailand Glass Art Festival 2018
- Currently I am creating a new set of artworks to be scheduled for 7th Solo Exhibition in 2020
- Publish the most complete compilation book to collect all my works.
The Web Of Life 75x106 cm. Oil Marker on PVC 2015
JY: What else would you like to say to our readers?
IT: I have found my success from a phrase “Love in Art”. With love, faith and obsession in art, all of other problems will be gone for good. No sweat and discouragement at all. If there is no such love and faith, I might have stopped working on art a long time ago. "Accomplishment can be achieved through persistence. Others have already given up. I would like young artists to think in a similar fashion. They will never fail."
Three Colour Leaves 94x179 cm. Oil Marker on PVC 2016
Love in Art does not need reward. We need to do our best first and success will come later. The success I got such as receiving the title of the National Artist is not in my expectation. Selling my works are the benefits that will come later. In the past selling a piece of artwork was like winning a lottery, but at the present more people are interested and understand the value of arts. There are many students who become the professional artists after their graduation Likewise, there are more people who buy and collect artworks.
Vessel Of Andaman 580x450 cm. Stainless Steel with
Powder Coat 2016
There are problems most artists have faced. When they found their suitable and unique style of art making for themselves, they tended to do the same kind of technique and style over and over. Every piece looks almost the same as they cannot escape from their own self view. Hence, the most important competitors for them are themselves. New things become old and creative things become redundant. In other words, the artists have to set their own way of thinking, contents, goals, forms and techniques to have clear boundaries. The framework should not be too large that anyone can use it and not too narrow that it is inflexible. It is necessary to destroy the framework or break the mold so that artists can think outside the box and then they can create something new. An Artist should always find new ideas.
Lastly, someone asked me what is my favorite piece of artwork. I could answer that it is my unmade work. If that piece is already made, I can no longer make any new work. To be honest, I am still not truly satisfied with my own work. The level of “profound” in abstract art can be greatly developed further. As I am a lecturer and artist at the same time, my focus is not concentrated and is not consistent enough. If I have more time and peace, I believe my abstract art will develop further. Right now I have Parkinson’s syndrome. Although I have more time, my body is weak but I have regrets. I love both making and teaching arts as a lecturer. I am so proud that I can do both and wish to teach art as ever. I was so impressed with the speech of Professor Silp Bhirasri. He said an artist can teach a few people but the lecturer can teach over a hundred people. It is always my
pleasure to help art students to graduate or find themselves to become true artists.
Cover Photo - February No. II 81x61 cm. Woodcut 1970