CHAVALIT SOEMPRUNGSUK AT 80+ | Janine Yasovant | Scene4 Magazine | April 2020 | www.scene4.co

Chavalit Soemprungsuk at 80+

Janine Yasovant
 คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

After an exhibition in Amsterdam, Chavalit Sermprungsuk,Thai National Artist in Visual Arts (Painting, 2014), came back to Thailand again with new exhibitions: 80+ Art Festival Thailand exhibitions in 6 locations: Silpa Bhirasri‘S House, Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center, Lhong 1919. Baramee Of Art, Bangkok Art And Culture Centre ( Bacc), Numthong Art Space, from November 2019-February 2020


Chavalit Soemprungsuk was born in 1939. He was educated at the primary and secondary school of Vajiravudh College, an all-boys boarding school in Bangkok. After that he went to study at the College of Fine Arts and then at the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts University of the Arts, Silpakorn University.

Chavalit Soemprungsuk was in one of the last groups of students who had the opportunity to study with Silpa Bhirasri before he passed away. After graduating from Silpakorn University, he received a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture of the Netherlands to study at the Rijkskademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. After he graduated, he became a Sponsored Artist of the Netherlands government, receiving financial patronage and permanent residence.

He married a Thai woman, Phanee Meethongkum, who came to study in the Netherlands after she graduated from Silpakorn University.

He began his career with realism artworks, which later developed into abstraction. Over the past six decades, he has been recognized as one of the key figures in Thai abstract and non-objective art. During a recent solo exhibition In Amsterdam with Chavalit Soemprungsuk at Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Center, he decided to donate over 4,000 items of his possessions, including his art collection, books, furniture, personal belongings, and the structure of his Amsterdam apartment to the Thai government, with the request that the collection  be accessible to the public, in order to benefit the younger generations of Thai artists.

After giving up his material properties in preparation for the last stage of his life, Chavalit Soemprungsuk, at the age of 70, shifted his artistic medium from large-scale sculptures and paintings to digital computer prints. During 2013–2019, he developed an immense body of digital works, as well as experimenting with one-off edition digital inkjet prints in his Amsterdam atelier.


This collection was  displayed for the first time in all six venues of ‘80+’ exhibitions, in celebration of his 80th anniversary.


Here was the interview with me in the middle of February 2020

JY. Please tell us about your return to many exhibitions at the same time. Up to six locations in Bangkok in the beginning of the year 2020.

CS. After age 70, I began to prepare to die and manage all my available treasures. A self-built house in Amsterdam was ceded to the Ministry of Culture to organize an exhibition at the Ratchadamnoen.

I no longer wanted to create larger art, but I didn't stop working. I kept everything from my artworks on my computer. My intention is that I want Thai people who love Art  and the new generation in Thailand to have a chance to see my work. Artists from Thailand worked in both Thailand and The Netherlands for the past 60 years. ‘80+’ was the latest: a six-part series of solo exhibitions. It was the exhibition No. 5 from me to Thailand.

JY. Please tell us about the venues in Bangkok


CS. The 80+ Art Festival Thailand November 2019 – February 2020 was at:

3-30 November 2019

3-30 November 2019

LHONG 1919
Exhibition: 16 November-10 December 2019

14 December 2019-20 February 2020

14-26 January 2020

25 January-15 February 2020

JY. What do you see from new Thai generations that should be a new dimension for development and increased interest in art?


CS. Viewing art from Thailand is still very different from the West. I cannot tell if there is a new dimension developing from the new generation or not. I would say, organizing activities for them to visit everywhere, and give away attention prizes just for fun.


JY. Please tell us a story about your personal life, about your past life.

CS. My life with my wife has been one of love for over 60 years. We've known each other since we studied at Silpakorn University. She lost her parents at a young age. Moving to a foreign country when we were young might be the reason for our uninhibited personas.

When encountering life's terrible things: Our son died in a fire at the age of two. This has always been a great family wound.

Before that, I thought life was endless because my father had lived a long life. Until the tragedy in our home: my son and a friend who came as a baby sitter had died at the same time. I was so confused as was my father. I began to think that people can die any day. You can stay today, tomorrow could be your last day.

I prepared to die and keep managing until the age of 70. I felt that I may die faster. I had heart surgery and Lymphoma. And there were a lot of chances for me for death, but still I survive.

Many people thought that I was successful. But never knew that I was also sad. I used to go through sadness too. Too much suffering, losing a child was a big misery. It won't be forgotten, but we have to live with it. It's difficult.

Yet we have art. After my child's death, I made another type of art. It was a matter of sadness. We did it with our feelings at that time. We have to do art because we were born to do art. Art depends on our lives at that time. It will come out sincerely. How can you be a fake? Your child is dead. You write beautiful flowers. It's impossible.

Art for me is life. We suffer. We are happy. We are sick. We lose, we are hurt, we are sad. It is part of the art of people. Not everyone has happiness but not everyone will see only flowers and the sky. Every life is like that.



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คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย
Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant

Janine Yasovant is a writer and art collector in Chiang Mai, Thailand and a Senior Writer for Scene4. For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2020 Janine Yasovant
©2020 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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