November 2012

Scene4 Magazine: Pornchai Chaima - Fifth Step to Lanna Artist Way | Janine Yasovant | November 2012 |

Janine Yasovant
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

In 1993 I went to teach French at Doi Saket Wittayakom School, Doi Saket District, Chiang Mai Province. This school is quite far from the Chiang Mai city. I was surprised that a teacher who taught French at this school resigned and abandoned 12 students who were in their final year of high school. It was very important to have a teacher who taught French because at that time they had to take Entrance Examinations to universities. The headmaster of my school asked me to be a substitute teacher and teach French at Doi Saket Wittayakom School.

I was worried so much about students who had no teacher and then I had talked with another instructor Monsieur Guy Cohen, a French professor who was the guest lecturer from the faculty of education, Chiang Mai University and the Prince Royal college school about setting up a  teaching schedule and he agreed to help me but I had to pick him up in the morning. I had to go to Doi Saket Wittayakom School every Tuesday and Thursday to teach French. As promised, on Thursday morning I picked him up for a conversation class where I worked as a guest teacher. Monsieur Guy Cohen did not receive any compensation. The best thing I found was the director of Doi Saket Wittayakom school allowed us to take students on a field trip to visit Maekuang Udomthara Dam and there were also many restaurants with fish we selected as lunch for teachers and students. Monsieur Guy Cohen taught recipes in French which was the curriculum of French program as well as tourist attractions because some students who studied French in the future planned to work in the tourism business with French tourists and other travelers.

That year was also strangely interesting because at night there were meteor showers for many weeks. The students who studied French were very busy with many activities such as a French cooking competition and stage performances. I needed to hire a dance teacher in the city to help them and Monsieur Guy Cohen helped me so much with teaching that I brought him a bar of chocolate and a banana whenever I met him at Montfort Villa village for the three-month period, which delighted him. Monsieur Cohen and I also bought French books as presents for our students and took them to study outside the school.   

Because of the meteor showers, two of the most popular places for watching the meteors in Chiang Mai were Wat Phratat Doi Saket temple in Doi Saket District and the Chiang Mai Celebration sports stadium in Maerim District. Students suggested that we should go to Wat Phrathat Doi Saket temple on the top of the mountain where local artists were working on the main temple. Up there, there were huge, splendid, colorful powder-color paintings about Buddhism beliefs, which the artist had to use enormous effort to paint. I asked people who the painter was but I had no response from them. Nineteen years later, I found that it was a great work of a famous artist who was from Rajamangala Lanna University and received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Silpakorn University. He was an outstanding student who was awarded five Gold medals from Bua Luang painting contests from 1989 -1995. In 1991, he received an honorary plaque award for wall painting at the Doi Saket ordination hall. Most of his masterpieces he named as Lanna's Way of Life and the Creative Path of Pornchai Chaima. He did the masterpieces in his village in Doi Saket. Later, I got his name from the work itself:

    Wall paintings at the ordination hall of Wat San Ton Muang Nuea temple, Doi Saket, Chiang Mai.
    Wall paintings at the Hor Montien Tham (Temple repository for the Buddhist Scripture) at Wat  Buppharam temple, Muang District, Chiang Mai.
    Wall paintings at the ordination hall of Wat Doi Saket temple, Doi Saket, Chiang Mai.
    Design of gates and windows of the Vihara at Wat Maeka Nuea temple, Doi Saket Chiang Mai.
    Design of the wall of Wat San Ton Muang Nuea temple, Doi Saket, Chiang Mai.
    Design and construction of the Hom Boon Sankha Monastery, Doi Saket, Chiang Mai.

In October 2012, I received a phone call from a relative. He went to the grand opening of an artist at Chiang Mai University Art Exhibition hall. He told me that the artist was Pornchai Chaima and he was born in Doi Saket and finished Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Silpakorn University. He also was an exemplary youth at the university and 13 years ago his works were exhibited at AJAC 25, New Art in Tokyo, Japan and it was quite successful. My relative told me that I have to go to see the exhibition and interview the artist if possible. The exhibition period was from 13 – 27 October 2012. When I heard his name, I was very excited because this was artist whose work I had followed for so long and I was certain that he might come back to show his work for Thai Lanna people. 

Scene4 Magazine: Pornchai Chaima - Fifth Step to Lanna Artist Way | Janine Yasovant | November 2012 |

Fortuitously, I met Pornchai Chaima at the Chiang Mai University Art Center when I went out to shoot photos in the gallery. His fifth solo exhibition was called "Fifth Step Lanna Artist Way"— it was marvelous and attractive with a narrative of Thai Lanna life. He said he collected and borrowed his old paintings during the last 25 years from collectors to show in this exhibition. People told me that he would travel to China and India and would be back around the 25th of October 2012. Pornchai Chaima looked the same as his portrait in the invitation booklet. This was rather amusing and his beard was longer than his hair. His skin was white and he also had a very friendly smile.

Scene4 Magazine: Pornchai Chaima - Fifth Step to Lanna Artist Way | Janine Yasovant | November 2012 |

We walked through to see all of the paintings again and he told me more detail about his belief in Buddhism when he was young and his desire to bring paintings to life. He used powder color and thin foils of Gold to decorate his art works. I had an idea to portray one of the previous reincarnations of Siddharta:
Once there was a mute person called Phra Taemee. He chose not to speak and bad people came to attack him. The paintings are very brutal. I found that my clients were not happy to see that Pra Taemee was tortured in many ways. I said that might be an interesting topic for the younger generation who love to play violent games. Then we laughed. He said that he will go to China and India with his family to study other religious ways of Buddhism and discover new ideas for paintings.

Scene4 Magazine: Pornchai Chaima - Fifth Step to Lanna Artist Way | Janine Yasovant | November 2012 |

I asked him about his favorite paintings and he told me that he borrowed them back with the help of universities and friends. This was his intention although his paintings were very large and the frames were very expensive to make. He added: "I did this for my hometown, Chiang Mai."

Scene4 Magazine: Pornchai Chaima - Fifth Step to Lanna Artist Way | Janine Yasovant | November 2012 |

Scene4 Magazine: Pornchai Chaima - Fifth Step to Lanna Artist Way | Janine Yasovant | November 2012 |

Scene4 Magazine: Pornchai Chaima - Fifth Step to Lanna Artist Way | Janine Yasovant | November 2012 |

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คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

©2012 Janine Yasovant
©2012 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant
Janine Yasovant is a writer in Chiang Mai, Thailand
and a Senior Writer for Scene4.

For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


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November 2012

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