The Spirit of Countryside

The Journey Story of Damrong Wong-Uparaj, a brilliant Thai National Artist.

Painting Thai Modernism (1954 - 1962) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

A brilliant Thai National Artist

This journey story shows an expansive visual and biographical examination into the works of Assistant Professor Damrong Wong-Uparaj (1936-2002), awarded 1999’s National Artist title in the painting category.

Power Station of Wat Lieb / Courtesy of MonWIC (1957/1957) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

"My first task was to observe and explore indigenous culture for use in creating art, and that built a relationship between local cultures and contemporary art."



Damrong Wong-Uparaj

Fishing Village / Courtesy of Fine Arts Department (1960/1960) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Painting Thai Modernism (1954 - 1962)

Damrong's student paintings of rural nostalgia stood against the reality of a development Bangkok city. He surveyed local craft and architecture, re-imagined rural "Thainess" through a mixture of Western art and Damrong's unique approach. 

Unknown / Courtesy of Dr. Somratch Hiranyawasit (1961/1961) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Coconut Trees / Courtesy of Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art (1961/1961) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Thai Village on Srills with Two Wheeled Wagon (Northern Village #1) / Courtesy of MonWIC (1960/1960) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

"After having studied ancient Thai paintings in a number of temples, I got the idea to paint in a new way of my own, using tempera paint on fabric in great detail to tell about the countryside."

Damrong Wong-Uparaj, from the catalogue for the Retrospective Exhibition, 1982

Red Lines Over Black with Small Yellow and Red Squares / Courtesy of MonWIC (1961/1961) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Discovering the Multiverse (1962-1975)

This would become a period that expanded this earnest artist's horizon, abandoning natural forms to favor dynamic ones then fully immersing himself in abstract painting and expressionism. 

Vela / Courtesy of MonWIC (1965/1965) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Unknown / Courtesy of Prof. Somsakdi Xuto, Ph.D. (1965/1965) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Homage to Mondrian / Courtesy of MonWIC, Damrong WONG-UPARAJ, 1963/1963, From the collection of: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Show lessRead more

Nakornpathom Rice Field / Courtesy of TISCO Art Collection (1971/1971) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

"After studying abstractionist concepts for a time, I began doing abtract-era work, focusing on colour and weight, starting with watercolours, chalk, and iol paints, sometimes mixing them."


Damrong Wong-Uparaj, from the catalogue for the Retrospective Exhibition, 1982

Roof / Courtesy of MonWIC (1977/1977) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Life in Consensus (1976 - 1977)

During his artist residency in Japan, the artist chose to focus on religious architecture and components found in small farm houses after researching its history and traditions. 

Tori-2 / Courtesy of MonWIC, Damrong WONG-UPARAJ, 1977/1977, From the collection of: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Show lessRead more

He was particularly fond of the "Tori", a red outdoor entrance gate to Shinto temples. He wrote in his Japan Period catalogus essay: "I can keep drawing Tori gates without ever getting bored."

Fall-2 / Courtesy of MonWIC (1977/1977) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Ise Dai Jingu / Courtesy of Kittiporn Jalichandra (1976/1976) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

It was the Japanese Zen temples that truly captured Damrong's spirit. Techniques used were a combination that the artist developed himself; using pen and watercolour, drawing very fine detailed lines that echoes the peaceful meditative state.

Rice Fields / Courtesy of MonWIC (1979/1979) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Imagery of Serenity (1977 - 2002)

In this concluding era, we start to see stilt houses with thatched-roofs reappear in his paintings that also feature rural-life signifies such as big earthen jars for water, hanging cloths drying, haystacks and woven baskets with a golden rice field backdrop. 

Unknown / Courtesy of MonWIC, Damrong WONG-UPARAJ, 1995/1995, From the collection of: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Show lessRead more

The Great Painting for Thailand / Courtesy of MonWIC (1993/1998) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

"I was still using acrylics, watercolours, and ballpaint pens, too, trying to find true peace through my own models and methods. the largest painting was 3 x 2 meters, took nearly 4 years, ans was based on moral principles, meditation, and wisdom."


Damrong Wong-Uparaj

A House on the Mountain 1 / Courtesy of MonWIC, Damrong WONG-UPARAJ, 1994/1999, From the collection of: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
,
A House on the Mountain 2 / Courtesy of MonWIC, Damrong WONG-UPARAJ, 1994/1999, From the collection of: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
,
A House on the Mountain 3 / Courtesy of MonWIC, Damrong WONG-UPARAJ, 1994/1999, From the collection of: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Show lessRead more

Back to the Village / Courtesy of MonWIC (1993/1994) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

Such precise repetition yet meditative production of work with the same theme is indicative of confirming the artist's wisdom and he would continue to paint this way until his untimely death in 2002.

Imagery of Serenity (1977 - 2002) by Damrong WONG-UPARAJBangkok Art and Culture Centre

"The artist has not painted a human figure but we have the vivid impression to live among our healthy, good rural people."

Prof. Silpa Bhirasri, from the article "Extremities" in the 11th National Exhibition of Art catalogue (1960)

Exhibition Sponsor: Museum of Narong Waleeporn Intanate Collection (MoNWIC)

Credits: Story

Exhibition Name: Damrong WONG-UPARAJ : A Retrospective of Versatility and Discipline
Artist: Assistant Professor Damrong Wong-Uparaj
Guest Curators: Adulaya Hoontrakul and Assistant Professor Vichaya Mukdamanee, D. Phil.

Viewing Period: 20th April – October 2021, at Main Gallery on 8th floor, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Thailand

Organized by: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
BACC’s Principle Supporter: Thai Beverage Public Company Limited
Exhibition Sponsor: Museum of Narong Waleeporn Intanate Collection (MoNWIC)
Project Supporters: Faculty of Arts, Silpakorn University and Fine Paper Takeo (Thailand) Co.,Ltd.
Photos: Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Address: 939 Rama 1 Road, Wangmai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Opening Time: Tuesday - Sunday, at 10.00 - 19.00 hrs. (closed on Mondays), last admission to Main Gallery at 18.30 hrs.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps