Recently, I came across a lovely catalog from an art exhibition called "Silent Wish" at a music party in Baan Saen Doi Chiang Mai compound. The art catalog that caught my interest so much was from an artist, Pearapong Khiriwong, who combines the concept of the revered Buddha statue, threads and a paper crane in many of his paintings.
He gave me a brochure for his exhibition in 2010 at Number One Gallery in Bangkok. I try to understand the true feelings of the works of art and as a source of his true identity.
JY: I am very happy to see you here. Your works impressed me very much because of the direct and gentle expressions which were valuable for seeing by eyes and touching by heart.
PK: Actually, my initial work involves finding a unique symbol that means making merits or beneficial things for this world. The symbol I selected was a white paper crane. It stands for everyone who prays for true peace in the world.
JY: I knew that you were from Phang Nga Province in the South of Thailand. When did you have interest in painting?
PK: Back then I had no knowledge of art but I started a painting career when I moved to study in Bangkok. At first I drew some book covers and movie posters.
In 2006, I had art exhibitions at Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hotel in Chiang Mai and Carpedium Art gallery in Bangkok. At that time the supporting fund was from Thai Airways. I would like to explain that each of my paintings did have not many colors and they were mixed media art. The white thread was an individual identity belief and the red thread was making belief for myself.
Selling paintings is not my main way to earn money. My usual works are decoration in many hotels in Thailand such as De Chai group and Grand Mercure.
JY: Which one is your favorite painting?
PK: I love all of my paintings equally because I made them from love.
JY: What is your concept of work?
PK: The most rewarding time for me is when I work straight from start to finish. That is my real success. Money and fame are just the bonus.
Pearapong Khiriwong separates his usual jobs and preferred jobs. Both are all paintings. For his usual jobs, he creates abstract paintings for many hotels especially in the Mercure group. His paintings decorate every Mercure hotel in Thailand such as in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Chang, Pattaya, Krabi, Phuket, Patong Bay and Nang Bay.
His customers from leading hotels in Thailand have strong interest and trust in the way he works. His paintings are also in a Chinese restaurant of Daradevi Orientel Chiang Mai hotel, and his paintings appear in a few of the hotels in De Chai group. Most importantly, he is very proud that his paintings are decor in every Mercure hotel around Thailand.
Pearapong also said that he felt happy to be able to look after his young son and daughter as well as his parents. His parents had many children so they live with each child who may be in another province for a month or two.
JY: Do you have a team?
PK: No, I always work alone. I am chosen specifically by hotels so I have to finish the paintings alone. Many of my customers are foreigners who live and do business in Thailand. They know about me and love my paintings.
JY: I know that some of your paintings are in a gallery in Japan. Is that correct?
PK: Yes, it is a contact from a gallery to another gallery. The painting frame size is usually smaller than the size of my paintings in Thailand. Here the painting shelves are much larger. I do not leave out the concept of Buddhism. The threads connect to hope and the paper crane is a symbol of luck and love.
JY: Are your children interested in arts, do they want to be artist like you?
PK: Like many other Thai artists, I think paintings have much detail and require time to learn and practice. I would like them to work in other fields rather than pursue the same goal as mine.
JY: Do you think that working for something you love can or can not bring happiness?
PK: It is difficult for many artists to have someone to know them and appreciate their works. Right now, I consider myself to a successful person. I am lucky that many art lovers love my paintings which are not so expensive to afford. Many hotels asked me to create abstract paintings but paintings with threads and paper crane are my personal works with which I want to tell people about my inner feelings. I have painted this collection of paintings for many years and their numbers are increasing and the colors remain very bright. I am happy with my works and know that I can do many good things for the world.
JY: About your next exhibition?
PK: The exhibition will be called "The wind beneath the wings of paper." This time the focus will be shifted to paper cranes to make them livelier.
I hope that everyone will have hope and that society will be peaceful.