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Assist. Prof. Pichet Piaklin is currently the dean of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, at the Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus. Pichet was awarded the Silpa Bhirasri Grants’ Best Artist Award in 2010. Pichet is an artist whose work is inspired by nature, featuring elements such as plants, earth, rocks, rivers and steam. The artist uses a traditional Thai style to help maintain certain ideal characteristics, historic techniques and patterns. These images are also used to present aspects of the Buddhist philosophy. Pichet has long produced his work in this style and his tendency towards themes of nature comes from his notion that humans and all living things are deeply connected to each other. He thinks that nature is present in each moment of a human’s life, and vice versa – as with the plants that are mentioned in the biography of the Buddha. While studying the Buddha’s personality - polite, calm, peaceful, and in harmony with nature - the artist was impressed with his personality and conduct. Thus, he started to create art that depicted the personality and teachings of Buddha. Pichet continuously directs his energy to creating work in this way, and it has become his own signature style.
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Pichet Piaklin. I graduated from the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture, and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn University with Thai Traditional Painting major. I’m now working as an art instructor at Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Prince of Songkla University.
What is the concept and inspiration behind the series ‘Buddhaphoom’?
I provided two paintings for the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok art project. One is called ‘Buddhaphoom 1’ which is about the historical ideology of the Lord Buddha, in particular when Buddha reaches enlightenment. The second painting, ‘Buddhaphoom 2’, illustrates when Buddha achieved nirvana. I use a ‘Bodhi’ tree to symbolise this moment. It also provides a sense of wisdom and enlightenment. I used bright colour tones in this piece. The picture of a lotus symbolises the process of enlightenment. For ‘Buddhaphoom 2’, it’s about the Buddha’s passing. There are trees in the background. The picture of two bended trees refers to mournfulness, accordingly to the Buddha's biography.
What are the techniques that you use in your artworks?
I mainly used acrylic paints on canvas and sheets of gold leaf also added in the details.
Does the use of gold leaf mean anything in particular?
Yes. I used sheets of gold leaf instead of light colours. They are also meant to indicate a conception of self-consciousness and intellect.
Could you explain to us a little bit more about the concept of Buddhist beliefs in your artworks?
I think that the conception of the enlightenment of intellectual spirit is relevant to art. I symbolised this Buddhism notion through the elements in my artworks. The use of bright colours symbolises light. The pollen symbolises the scent. When I paint pictures of pollen, I speckle the pigment with a tip of the brush in order to make them come alive.
What do you think about the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok’s online art gallery that is displaying artworks by emerging Thai artists on the website?
Speaking from an artist’s viewpoint, I think it’s a great step that could help artists to present their artworks to the public in an alternative way. People do not only see artworks hanging on the walls in the reality but also on the website. It’s an opportunity for audiences to approach and consume arts more easily.
What factors do you think are the key in creating artworks?
I think the way artists express that their spirit and self-confidence is important. For example, taking this Siam Kempinski Hotel case, I think the curator has chosen artists who have a good spirit, self-confidence and a genuine passion for a career as an artist. Judging from the list of artists involved in this project I’m proud to be chosen and to have a chance to work with fellow artists. I know that they have been working in this field for such a long time. I’m hoping they would continue creating fine artworks until they truly become well-known Thai artists.
What do you think is the most challenging task of being an artist?
Firstly to survive by selling artworks. And secondly to express what you actually want to say through artworks. Indeed, your messages should be delivered to audiences correctly.
What/How do you expect audiences to understand and/or get inspired from seeing your artworks?
As I am an art teacher I have a chance to use a variety of artistic techniques to create artworks such as painting, drawing and mixed media. I draw to seek new shapes and forms, and the outcomes help me to develop my paintings. At some point I realise how can I express my thoughts through drawing and painting techniques and thereafter combine the two techniques together. This is my process of creating artworks that I generally use to manipulatively stimulate and develop my arts. This is very challenging to me and this is also what I want my audiences to acknowledge. I want them to see and understand that they are not just seeing my artworks displayed but also understand that there is a process behind them.
What do you think about the younger Thai artists? Are they different from your generation?
I think the difference is the spirit to work hard and the patience to wait until they become successful artists. It seems like the young generation have less potential on these two points. It’s different from my generation. We are very patient. It is not always like that though. I want to encourage everyone to be patient. Another current issue is ASEAN. Thai artists would not be working solely in Thailand but also in other countries in Southeast Asia. We would be more open with regards to the ASEAN. We would step on to the international stage. It would be more challenging, although Thai artists would be more open-minded and get more chances to see artworks of non-Thai artists. This will be very interesting.
What would you say about the art market in Thailand in which it seems that art collectors tend to collect artworks from other countries rather than from Thailand?
I think it’s because of the short period of time Thais have spent on developing. Perhaps it’s the system in Thailand. We have a lack of supporters. That could be a reason why the art circle in Thailand cannot grow smoothly and continuously. Artworks from some of our neighbouring countries have been more widely accepted and thus they can be sold with higher prices. In contrast, the art circle in Thailand is quite chaotic. We need to learn how to set new standards in art. We need better support. More proper art museums and art collectors. I mean ‘real’ art collectors who would help artists to sell artworks more easily and help them to survive.
Do you have anything you would like to tell the younger artists at all?
I learned from my teachers. Thawan Duchanee was an idol to me. He told me to be patient. Keep waiting until the day has come, the day of success. If we could wait, things would be alright. I think everyone has their own pathway. I mean whatever career you pursue. For example, my students want to work part-time in non-art related fields while they study art. I think this is good. I expect them to work and get paid but find time to get back to creating artworks which is what they like to do.
Interview by Art Consulting Asia
Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, August 2017
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