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Could you please introduce yourself please?
I am Ariya Kitticharoenwiwat. I graduated from Silpakorn University, Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Painting Major. I am currently an art teacher at Faculty of Architecture, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, particularly in Fine Arts Programme. Apart from teaching arts, I also work as an artist. I mainly create sculptures which I like most.
How were you inspired to create the series ‘Letting out the Chickens’?
My inspiration came from Thai aphorism, when Thai people insinuate something when we talk with each other. I got the inspiration from these aphorisms and materialised them into sculptures. The phrase ‘Letting out the Chickens’ can be expressed in Thai as ‘Ploi Kai’. It means a person who makes a fool of him/herself. But the phrase also implies that chickens (Kai) are kept in a coop and, thus, lack freedom. But when these chickens are let out (Ploi), they experience independence and freedom. Their lives will be better. The phrase ‘Ploi Kai’ also means freedom. All these aphorisms are the concept that I wanted to present to the audiences.
Do the chickens to stand on top of the coop means giving them freedom?
I placed the chicken on top of the coop to show that, for both the chicken and human, if we are freed or treated rightly then our lives will be better.
Can you talk about the technique and the material of this series?
There are two techniques that I used for this series. Firstly, I used stainless steel plates which were used to make the shape of the chickens. In this process, I welded each part together. In the second process, I casted the coop into bronze which, basically, means that they are the real coop.
Do these coops are the real coops?
Yes. The coops that we see are made from weaving bamboo. And these coops went through the process of metal casting, transforming them into bronze ones. Then they are put together with the stainless-steel chickens. I want to show the contrast between the materials. For the chickens, I exhibited the shininess of stainless steel which indicates good life. Contrastingly, the dark and dull shade of bronze is the opposite.
Why do you think that series ‘Letting out the Chickens’ is suitable for the hotel? How does it fit in with the hotel’s project because other works exhibited here are about lotus flowers?
In Thai belief, which is where the series originates, the phrase is both a storyteller and a phrase that we use in our daily lives. It shows Thainess and Thai identity which I think fits the concept of the hotel and its surrounding community, the community of Thai people that have lived here for a long time. Furthermore, foreigners that visit the hotel will be able to see Thai art and learn about its origins.
What do you think about the online art museum project undertaken by the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok to collect the artworks that exhibited in the hotel and then publish them on the website?
We must admit that online media is now the fastest digital media. Everyone can reach it and it is conveniently within their grasp. This website will let the artists, art workers and anyone interesting in art know about the artworks on display here. They will learn about the artworks never seen before. This online source will let us know about the artworks and their creators in the hotel’s collection. Anyone interested in this collection can see it at the hotel.
What do you think is the most important thing in creating artworks?
It all starts from the artist who creates it. The creator who produces work using their heart as a guide would know what he/she wants to convey to the people. Therefore, the most important thing is the message that the artists impart in their works. When the artist uses all his/her skills and knowledge on both the artwork and on the implication behind it, the artwork will be good and valuable. Thus, all art workers that work with positive attitudes will want to produce the work and, then, all artworks will be valuable.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?
Art workers are always thinking of how to produce artwork. For me, I always think of how to continuously produce new works. This means that an artwork or a series of artworks requires time. The flow of continuous created works might stop after an art worker finishes a project because he/she runs out of idea for new works. To advance in this flow is what is challenging for me. The moment before creating our own artwork is difficult. For instance, once my artwork won a prize there was a need to maintain my position as a prized artist and continue to produce prize-worthy works. Maintaining the standard of our works or improving them is what is difficult.
Are there any messages in your works to inspire the audience?
The artworks that I created, every piece and series, all have their own concepts and symbolic meanings which differ from one work to another. Currently, my works are about the occurrences that happened in my life. For instance, I remember that there was a news about consuming genetic modification food. The news had created a huge commotion at the time as there was a possibility that, in the future, everything we eat might be genetically modified. This news became an inspiration for me to tell the viewers of this news, to let them know that art can be used as a form of communication to publicise an event that may have advantages and disadvantages. it’s become a way to tell the audience about everything happening around them and you try to tell the audiences about these occurrences in the form of artworks. It could be defined as a means of communication.
What is your opinion on the current Thai art circle?
In all the time that I have spent working in this art circle, from learning art and then teaching it, all together 20 to 30 years, there are not many changes compared to the art circles of other countries. If you visit the major art galleries in Europe or U.S.A. you will realise that their people are really enthusiastic about seeing art and there are many huge collections of artworks in these galleries. But the collections in Thai art galleries and the numbers of visitors are noticeably fewer. When we heard of Thai people criticising about the need to queue in front of a gallery or museum to see artwork, we realise that Thai people don’t have the habit of consuming art. And when they have a chance to do so, they would walk pass the artwork and merely glance at it. But for the Europeans and Americans they intentionally go to the museum and gallery to observe the artwork. It is a habit that they were instilled with since they were young. But to instil the same habit in Thai people is difficult. Actually, Thailand has many renowned artists and great artworks. But this situation might be because Thailand still lacks appropriate management and curation. Lacking a person who really works as moderator, publisher and representative of these artists. You should know that the artists work mainly to express themselves in the form of artworks but to have them advertising their own works is a different matter. Our art industry still lacks this service - a curator who manages the artworks and organises or displays the collection. Thus, Thailand would not be able to stand at the same level of Singapore or Hong Kong that do have this service.
Do you have anything that you want to tell the younger artists?
What you need the most is patience and determination. It is the same in any profession. We need to be patient and be determined to stand firm in our own paths and careers. If you feel that the viewers don’t like your works and give up, then you will fail. Honestly, being an artist is a career that takes a huge amount of time. However, some national artist or some art teacher once told me about H.R.H Princess Sirindhorn’s speech which says: ‘artist is a career that once you are old, you will prosper.’ If you are an athlete you cannot continue working once you’re old and, then, living will be difficult for you. But, for the artist, you gain experience as you get older. You will have more experience and expertise. Your artworks improve and have more value, gaining depth and other meanings. If I remember correctly, those teachers said that the Princess remarked that artist is a career that you will be well when we are old because we can always draw something and continue telling people about something. But, for other careers, the time that you can work is less than the artist. So, you must be patient. Don’t think that success is easy and will arrive in an instant. In this profession, we must have patience. I always tell my students that luck is also an important factor. Creating artworks and then also making merit and doing good deeds. It is a Thai belief that once you do good deeds, whatever they are, goodness and fortune will come to you.
Interview by Art Consulting Asia
Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, August 2017
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