5 Things To Know About Thai Art

The Pink Room (1991) by Netikorn ChinyoArt Centre Silpakorn University

1. The word for art in Thai is 'Silapa' (ศิลปะ)

Silapa or Shilpa comes from Indian word, which means "sculpture", "statue" and "work of art".

In the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, during the reign of King Chulalongkorn, photography and portraiture was introduced into the kingdom as the country opens up to Western world, breaking the old traditions and thus ignite broader possibility in Thai art making. 

Youp...Nor...Pong...Nor...Youp...Nor...Pong...Nor (2005) by Anupong ChantornArt Centre Silpakorn University

2. Well-being is a Thai art ideal

Thai paintings reveals religious beliefs and age-old beliefs of Buddhist way of life and/or various Hindu gods and goddesses. The feature is widely expressed in Thai art in the past and the present.

Printmaking 1969 (1969) by Thakol PreeyakanitpongArt Centre Silpakorn University

3. Modern art in Thailand emerged with Silpakorn University

Silpakorn University was founded in 1943 by Professor Silpa Bhirasri, it started as School of Fine Arts which was since then grew to become University.

Followed by the establishment of Silpakorn University, the first art university in the country, art in Thailand began to adapt Western art such as Cubism and Impressionism.

Festival (1988) by Prasong LuemuangArt Centre Silpakorn University

3. Flatness vs Perspective

Unlike in the Western world, Thai art values and celebrates flatness in their artistic expression. The values passed on from generations through paintings and murals on the walls of temples. 

Thai art today returned to mural tradition and combined them with new knowledge and techniques adapted from the West. 

Birth of Happiness No.2 (2015) by Tawatchai SarisutArt Centre Silpakorn University

5. Great explorations with local materials

Unlike the western painting tradition use of paints and oil paints, Thai art expression dares to reach and use any local materials around them. These materials makes rich layers and textures revealing the many stories of Thai society. 

This is one example of artwork that combines lace, fabric, wire mesh, beads and paint. 

See more local materials used in Thai art
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