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Paramat Lueng-on is an independent artist who graduated from the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn University, and who has since developed his own unique artistic style when making his exceptional artwork. His signature technique involves the use of a mixture of gold leaf with dark and plain acrylic colours. The artist’s former name is ‘Visetpol’, but this was changed soon after he graduated from SIlpakorn University, when he was commissioned to paint a wall of the ‘ubosot’ in one of the temples of the Prachuap Khiri Khan province. At the temple, the artist met a monk who would remark that his name was not suited for him. Instead, ‘Visetpol’ became ‘Paramat’, as an experiment to see whether the name would improve his life or not. The name ‘Paramat’ means the truth, reality and certainty. The artist gave himself this name because of his belief that everything in this world will eventually come to an end; what is born will eventually die. While Paramat is a humble and easy-going man, his working personality can be the complete opposite. Most important to his work is a sense stillness and concentration. In his view, creating artwork is like lighting a fire with a magnifying glass. Just as the lens concentrates the sun’s heat and starts to create smoke and spark, so should art be formed from a similar sense of focus. He will always state that there is no right or wrong in art, not only for the artist but also the audience, who should never be afraid of interpreting a work of art rightly or wrongly. Paramat’s paintings are created using acrylic paint techniques. The artist loves to experiment and develop different styles and methods of painting. Apart from his paintings of the Buddha, Paramat has also painted animals, ordinary and mythical. It can be said that his works abstractly convey his inner thoughts and machinations, as well as wider Buddhist teachings and themes.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Paramat Lueng-On. I graduated from Silpakorn University, majored in Thai Art. Currently, I am an independent artist. I also work as an art teacher at Bunditpatanasilpa Institute, around Salaya.
Please tell us what was your inspiration and the concept behind the series ‘Life Harmony’ and ‘Wonder of Lotus’?
It began with the hotel’s concept for the artworks in this project. My artworks are ‘Life Harmony’ and ‘Wonder of Lotus’. Both of them refer to the idea that all life is living together. From the concept I thought about the relation in nature and I wanted to use plants as the starting point. The frame at the bottom of my artwork is a round shape, indicating the relationship of every being. Tree is my symbol of living things that are related to humans. All the things that provide for us such as flowers, fruits and even the oxygen. Additionally, many animals are living in the tree. I realised that all living beings depend on each other. It’s a never-ending relationship - like the circle of the frame of this work. The images of various animals in the painting represent all the living beings in this world. If there is no being in this world, the Earth would be an empty planet. But as we were born and given souls we, plants and animals included, are the symbols of life. Perhaps trees are the oldest symbols of life and all others followed the plants. From my view that trees are the first symbol of life, I think the beings that came later all depend on the tree.
For this project, what materials did you use?
I used acrylic paints. The benefit of using acrylic colours is that they are translucent – making it easy to create these works. The dissolving technique allows me to slowly apply the colours, layer by layer. The gold colour is also acrylic. Whether it is gold or silver, I usually use it to add more features to the paintings.
There is much detail and depth in these paintings. How long it took you to complete them?
Quite a long time because I had to apply the colours layer by layer. I started from the outline and then applied the layers. As the advantage of acrylic colours is translucency when we add water the colours dilute. I needed to wait until the colours had dried to get the first layer and then apply another colour. I had to consider the shade and the thickness of the colour that I want to use as the second layer. At this step, some images appeared in my mind and I was inspired by it to the point that I included it in my works. This could be said to be my special technique. I usually add new ideas into my works in the middle of the process which makes it even more fun to create artworks.
Lai Thai (traditional Thai Pattern) was added to your works. Is there any implication to Buddhism or other Thainess?
As a graduate of Thai Art, the ancient Lai Thai inside the temples is a fundamental subject that I had to study. What I did after studying is developing the patterns further. Designing the patterns let me know what shape or symbol I could add into my works. They became my experiences and were adapted into my later works. That’s why my works are not fully Traditional Thai Art but mixed with the style of designed artworks. Thus, the Lai Thai was developed by me.
Would you describe your artworks as traditional or contemporary Thai art?
I think they are Contemporary Thai Art. Some art critics say my artworks are not traditional Thai Art, they would rather describe my artwork as Post-Modern Art which is understood as the replacement of the normal Modern Art. But actually, my artworks are created from drawing, layered, deleting and recreating. it’s the adaptation of Traditional Thai Art with new techniques. It seems like when I create artworks they cannot be done in one step. My artworks are not finished easily. When I find something I do not like I paint over that bit or perhaps I create a new form. It is like… I carry on painting and editing my artworks until I feel content with the outcomes. That’s when I stop.
What do you think about the online art museum project undertaken by the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok to collect artworks of emerging Thai artists and then publish them on the website?
It’s a good idea. I think in every country they have their own culture. Thus, for this hotel to have this idea and create such a space I found it wonderful because, at least, people will realise that Thailand also has a strong history and culture>
What are the key factors in creating artworks?
Art is all about creating the attitude in the artworks. The art workers have their own idea of how to create artworks and what to convey through them. Thus, the core of the artworks is impression and astonishment or something similar. This is the point where every artist needs to create their own uniqueness or distinctive feature to attract and connect the attraction of the audiences to the artworks>
What is the most challenging part of being an artist?
I think it’s the process of creating artwork. The challenging thing is that while an artist is working, sometimes there is new idea that pops into his or her head but the artist is limited by the working process and cannot execute the idea fast enough. It’s like I’m concentrating on one work but my thoughts and my ideas disturb me and run away from me.
What do you usually want your artworks to convey to the audiences?
I want the audiences to see the overall image first before looking at the details where I have included all the implications. These details and implications make the artworks enjoyable. My works are not serious works that talk about uncomfortable matters. They’re works that make you enjoy looking or learning about life. I don’t want the audiences to merely take a glimpse at the works but I want them to really observe the artworks. I want them to search for the details and implications. I want them to be curious, get the idea and enjoy my work. If that’s possible, it would be great. It’s like we’re encountering something and are enlightened by it. Whatever it is, maybe it is a person or an activity, if we can learn from it I think it can guide our lives to a better one or an improved one. Speaking of improvement, art is the same. When I see an artwork by another artist and I learn the artist’s style and technique, this can be used to improve own my works. The improvement can be in the techniques or the design of my works.
What do you think about the today’s Thai art circle?
There are more art institutions and art students but there are not enough art galleries. Even though artists may create great artwork, there might not be a place for them to exhibit their works. If this continues, people will not choose to be an artist. Although this will change in the future it may be too late for Thai artists, especially when compared to other countries in Asia.
What do you think is the cause of the slow development of the art circle?
It might due to several organisations, including government, as well as other factors. They should have some procedure and policy that strengthens and develops the art circle. At least, there should be a gallery in every province in Thailand. Initially, I want every province to have its own gallery and each province should organise an exhibition or event for the art circle. Thai people should be gradually instilled with the love and interest in art. This is the only way that the art circle in Thailand can grow. For the art circle to only develop in Bangkok or the big cities is not enough.
What would you say about the art market in Thailand where it seems that art collectors tend to collect artworks from other countries more than those from Thailand?
The art collectors sometimes want to buy the artworks from a trustworthy gallery. Some of the collectors are aware that the artist is in Thailand or is a Thai artist but if the artworks are not officially exhibited in a gallery, they might think that the artworks are not up to standard. The collectors also have conditions and taste in choosing the works that they want to collect, thus, the works should have some qualification that can guarantee its value. Although the artworks have their own value the gallery is a channel for selling the artworks. Most importantly, if the art collectors and all art consumers really understand the value of art, they could buy artwork from anywhere. They would have noted its value even though it’s in the most unlikely place. It’s all depending on the art collectors. It’s the same with gem collectors. They would spot an uncut diamond hiding in the dirt>
Do you have a message for younger Thai artists?
In the path of creating artworks, the first thing they should prioritise is their own mind and determination. Many artists have given up on creating artworks but if they are really determined and love making art they must fight for it. It’s their own chosen path, they have to part their ways. It might be slow but, truthfully, the speed doesn’t matter. What matters the most is your determination and, eventually, you will naturally succeed by yourself.
Interview by Art Consulting Asia
Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, August 2017