June 2024


Srijai Kuntawang

Janine Yasovant
with Danin Adler


It was an opportunity for me to come back and interview Srijai Kuntawang again after 11 years had passed. At that time he still taught graphic arts at Rajamangala University of Technology Payap, Lanna Campus (https://www.scene4.com/archivesqv6/sep-2013/0913/janineyasovant0913.html).

Having experience from a special interest in graphic arts, especially woodblock prints that have been taught to students for a long time, so he developed expertise and created work in this field. At that time, I had the opportunity to visit the Srijai Art Studio in Mae Taeng District Chiang Mai Province In addition to having a famous restaurant called Pankled Coffee, there is also a studio for events and workshops with artists working on woodcut prints includng students from famous institutions. Most important, it is connected to the interest related to trees, structures, branches, leaves and flowers, the movement of nature and time, the environment that comes from abstraction, the Buddhist way Origin and environment, beauty in truth to give knowledge to those who still don't understand what is graphic art.


The launch of Srijai’s works at that time is consistent with my intentions: I would like readers to know the movement of studying at the higher education level in Thailand and in Chiang Mai Province that can provide education to create beautiful prints. It is an example of a university professor doing work that is a part of love and generates continuously works every day.


JY. Please tell us about your work and opening the workplace, Srijai Art Studio, as a source of knowledge of woodcut prints in the past.


SK. From experience I have been working in this area all the time. Continuously working in the field of graphic arts, I resigned from government work ten years ago, and work at my own studio in Mae Taeng with the purpose to be an example for those who work in the graphic arts. This must have its own work space and provide opportunities for teachers, students, and the general public to visit, to exchange knowledge. The printmaking work that I am doing currently, has received great attention from teachers, artists, students, and tourists. Thais and foreigners who traveled to Chiang Mai stop by to eat and drink coffee at Pankled, coffee especially. A team travels on motorcycles, called the Big Bike Team, a caravan of luxury vehicles that uses the location as a stopover midway at Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai.


JY. Please tell us more about the work you have done.

SK. Over the years when I was free from teaching in an institution I visited art works in many countries in Europe and Asia, some countries more than one time like
China, Japan and Italy.

In each era artists never stop creating. and what artists use as creative guidelines that come from things that are close to the artist, for example, lifestyle, nature, even. The important thing is that artists must be diligent. The creations of artists' works are produced in sequence. There is research and experimentation in their own art all the time and it may become legendary such as the immortal painting of Edward Mund, a Norwegian artist who is famous for The Scream or a unique creation by Picasso at the Picasso museum of art Barcelona Spain and so on.

I had the opportunity to visit the museums that collect Gutenberg-Museum printing equipment in Germany and saw Marc Chagall Russian-French fantasy work on love… artists in this museum together.


My family and me travel to see Japan Woodcut prints in the ancient Japanese style which are very interesting. This past March I traveled to China when I was invited to perform together with other artists. I had the opportunity to see the trees after the snow had melted. One thing of my intentions and wanting to see were the branches of the tree. That's my inspiration for the tree. It has always been in my art prints. I observe trees in different continents and countries and always sketch them. Sketching is the practice of drawing rough outlines or rough draft of the work of art that will be completed later. Skating can be used for preparation before creating a larger piece or to find out what the image will look like.

My education and travelling has inspired me a lot. It creates happiness for the creation that I have wanted for a long time.


JY. I saw your prints. And I once interviewed you about the love and inspiration that lies in Lanna art in woodblock prints. That has been done a lot. Over 30 years have passed, woodcuts and prints have become unique styles. It can be said that there are no Lanna artists who are still patient. Trying to work in the same way as Srijai Kuntawang in many exhibitions. (Srijai said that all of my work comes from the nature around me. His prints show trees with large branches and flower petals blooming everywhere in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. We call this tree "Phaya Suea Krong". This tree is very beautiful during the winter. The old leaves fall away, leaving only flowers blooming. Sri Jai's flower comes from imagination and we see 3 - 6 petals in different shapes.) You have said that the flower's form came from the Dhamma cabinets in temples. Traditional designs are lacquered and gilded. How has it developed until now?


SK. My impression of trees. From the fact that I am a person who likes to observe the story of the tree especially big trees which I will always pay attention to. At the end of last year I went to Italy and China and saw beautiful trees in both places. The trees in Italy are starting to grow new leaves. The weather is fine. As for the trees in China, they are only one month apart, but the trees are very different. During my trip to China the temperature was minus 16 degrees and the trees were left with only their branches, which looks beautiful in another way The rhythm of the lines can be clearly seen That's why I have to go back to China again. And it's the same place. After having been there for a period of three months apart, the weather in China at that time the temperature is approximately that of Italy. In the time that I have traveled the tree is blooming beautifully and this is what interests me about trees and change. Seasonal changes in lines, colors, and weights also vary. Especially large trees, some of which may be hundreds of years old. It is very beautiful and I have taken this impression to create a special set of work from recorded drafting work in 2023-2024, totaling 10 pieces, of which six pieces have now been successfully made using the woodcut technique.


JY. Please tell the story of woodcut prints, which is a job that you’re good at, once again.


SK. The technique that I am interested in and have worked with for a long time, over a period of more than 30 years, is the technique of woodcut printing, multi -color printing, using a single sheet of mold to carve and then print colored stumps to print continuously, until we get the job to our satisfaction. The reason I like this technique is because when working, it feels like we are working on a painting. You can continuously increase your skills. And this technique can be printed by hand without the need for a printing plate. Therefore, students or artists do not need to have a large work room to be able to create work. But if you come to the area and have capital to buy a printing press, it can be combined between the techniques.

 * * *

People who are already working or who are interested in techniques if you have the opportunity to come to Chiang Mai province, You can come and exchange knowledge at:

Srijai Art Studio or send a message to inquire. I am happy to provide knowledge from my long time work experience in woodcut.




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Danin Adler


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.

©2024 Janine Yasovant
©2024 Publication Scene4 Magazine



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