Associate Professor Thepsakdi Thongnopkoon graduated from the faculty of paintings, sculptures and graphic arts, Silpakorn University. At that time, printmaking was starting to become known and getting more popular in Thailand. In 1966, Professor Chalood Nimsamoe (1929-2015), a Thai national artist, was very well known in the circle of printmaking artists using several printmaking techniques such as etching, silkscreen and lithograph.
Around 1972, Thepsakdi was an art lecturer at Srinakarinwirot University Bangsaen (Burapha University). In 1980, he took a study leave to Silpakorn University again and then returned to teach at Srinakarinwirot University Bangsaen until his retirement in 2018. In total, he was an art lecturer for 46 years.
He told me, he was one of the directors of the faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Burapha University. He said that there were always international collaborations among artists from foreign countries such as China, Vietnam and South Korea and that they also had a group exhibition with Marie Curie University, Lupin City, Poland. Last December they also had a collaboration with the latter and Chiang Mai University.
I followed the workshops and exhibitions of Thepsakdi for a long time. His works portray various types of printmaking which are different from regular Thai artists. Seeing his works, everyone smiles to see his confidence in constantly presenting creative works. During his career, he was chosen to be the dean of Burapha University four times.
Here is the interview
JY: Why were you interested to study the art of printmaking?
TT: Printmaking was widely known and became popular in Thailand many decades ago. In 1966, the Bachelor’s degree of printmaking was included in the curriculum for the Faculty of paintings, sculptures and graphic arts of Silpakorn University for about three years. This course was actually initiated by Professor Chalood Nimsamoe, a famous printmaking artist who was an art lecturer there.
A few years later, I decided to enroll to study printmaking at Silpakorn University. My reason for selecting printmaking was because it was a fairly new subject back then. There were some interesting techniques to learn such as Etching, Silkscreen and Lithograph. Although I never studied and practiced them before, my familiarity with painting and sculpting could help me to understand and practice them by myself.
JY: Tell us about yourself?
TT: I was born in Phanat Nikhom District, Chon Buri Province in 1948. When I was a child, I loved drawing. Once I saw an elderly police officer draw some paintings of Hanuman, the monkey soldier and a giant in Ramakian Literature. I asked him for some of his drawings for my own practice. After finishing secondary school from a district school, I went to study art at Poh Chang school in Bangkok as I wanted to be an art teacher like my teacher who also studied at Poh Chang. Besides Poh Chang, I didn’t know much about any other art institutes at that time. Moreover, I wanted to be a very famous artist like Hem Wedchakorn.
After enrolling at Poh Chang School in 1964, I started to gather more knowledge to broaden my art education. In 1966, I went to study Printmaking at the Faculty of paintings, sculptures and graphic arts, Silpakorn University and graduated in 1970. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Printmaking, I started working as an art lecturer at Northeastern college of Technology, Nakhon Ratchasima in 1972 and after that I asked for a leave to continue my study for a Master’s degree in printmaking at the Faculty of paintings, sculptures and graphic arts, Silpakorn University until I graduated in 1980 and then I returned to teach art at Northeastern college of Technology. A few years later in 1983 I moved to teach art at Srinakharinwirot University Bangsaen (later this university was renamed Burapha University). From then on, I still worked as an art lecturer there until my retirement in 2018 when I
was 70 years old.
JY: What are your principles in teaching art?
TT: To teach art at the university level, I followed suggestions from my art teachers at Silpakorn University. They told me I should teach art and create artworks as well. Talking only about the significance of art without creating it, one cannot gain enough trust from the students. Hence, as an art lecturer, I also created art works to complement my teaching career. This became my personality. Although I had administrative duties and other responsibilities, I could still use my free time to make some art works. I used to be a dean of the faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Burapha University. I also recommended other younger art lecturers to consider the benefits of both teaching and making art works together. There are some benefits from this. Firstly, the art lecturers will get new concepts, forms, methods of making arts as well as inspiration for their personal works. This greatly helps their
teaching because of the direct experiences they get from making some art works that they can explain to their students. Secondly, their art works can help in their career promotion as an art lecturer. Finally, someone might like those art works and buy them. Moreover, their students will have more faith and trust in their teachers. The art lecturers make their art works to be the academic works which can be exhibited within and outside the university both domestically and internationally. Furthermore, regular and innovative research would considerably help improve artistic works.
One of the important activities of studying and making artworks is to organize art exhibitions. When I was in the administrative position of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Art, Burapha University, I always brought my works and works of other lecturers to participate in the art exchange program in other countries such as China, Vietnam and South Korea. For my own art creations, I submitted my works and was invited to exhibit my works in many countries. Recently, I participated in group exhibition and Marie Curie University, Lupin City, Poland.
JY: What do you do currently?
TT: After I retired from a teaching career, I had more time to create new works. When I was a lecturer, I made various types of artworks. Printmaking was something that I studied directly and I also made some paintings and sculptures. During my time in the administrative position, my focus was on painting because it was more convenient for me. For painting work, I could pause doing my work anytime and can resume it later when I had free time while printmaking is more complex and requires my continuous attention so I did it less than painting. Truthfully, I always want to make printmaking because it is my specialty. Talking about my latest works, now I am transitioning from the image of woman to freeform shapes.
This time I would like to make both painting and printmaking. I already drew some sketches and I am ready to fully commit myself to my works until they are exhibited next time. For my intention, paintings, sculptures and printmaking use different themes in each interval of time. There are also concrete, semi-abstract and abstract arts which use different methods and materials.