Tusk Gallery first made contact with contemporary Thai art in January 2007. I was on my way back to Australia and decided to drop into Bangkok to search for an artist named “Kitti”. I had seen a painting that I loved by this person. I didn’t know whether the artist was male or female, had no surname and the chances of finding him/her in a city with a population of over 10,000,000 people was pretty slim. Well guess what, I found him. I was really just about to give up. My daughter gave me that little extra push to persist and we were rewarded with success. Here’s Kitti on that day.
A Short History of Contemporary Thai Art
Silpakorn University is a national university in Thailand. The university was founded in Bangkok in 1943 by Italian born art professor Corrado Feroci, who took the Thai name Silpa Bhirasri when he became a Thai citizen. It began as a fine arts university and now includes many other faculties as well. In 2016, it has 25,210 students.
Silpakorn University was originally established as the School of Fine Arts under Thailand’s Fine Arts Department in 1933. The school offered the only painting and sculpture programs and waived tuition fees for government officials and students. Its creation owes much to the almost lifetime devotion of Professor Silpa Bhirasri, an Italian sculptor (formerly Corrado Feroci) who was commissioned during the reign of King Rama VI to work in the Fine Arts Department. He subsequently enlarged his classes to include greater members of the interested public before setting up the School of Fine Arts. The school gradually developed and was officially accorded a new status and named Silpakorn University on 12 October 1943. Its inaugural faculty was the Faculty of Painting and Sculpture. In 1955, the Faculty of Thai Architecture was established, later named the Faculty of Architecture) and two more faculties were created, the Faculty of Archaeology and the Faculty of Decorative Arts. He is so special to Thais that September 15th, his birthday is observed as Silpa Bhirasri Day.
As I said, my personal connection goes back eleven years. I was really very impressed about the camaraderie that existed between the artists I met. Late in 2011 about 60 artists came together to create a group exhibition space with 30 separate studios. It was called V64, inspired by Chinese contemporary art precincts 798 in Beijing and M50 in Shanghai. Although short-lived it lifted the presence of contemporary art in Thailand on an international level.
Some of the artists that I first met in 2007 have gone on to become internationally successful. These include Attasit Pokpong, Vichit Nongnual, Paitoon Jumee, Narate Kathong, Dusit Pimchangthong, Chamnan Changpaiboon, Kowit Wattanarach, Kitti Narod and Silawit Poolsawat. There are countless other fabulous Thai artists.
Tusk Gallery regularly features Thai art for sale. We currently have pieces by Dusit Pimchangthong, Kitti Narod and Paitoon Jumee. Throughout the past ten years I have watched many of these artists evolve and I believe they are up there with the best international artists.