Thai artist Chayanin Kwangkaew inspired by solitude and silence

  • Arts
  • Saturday, 16 Jun 2018

A close-up of Chayanin's 'A Moment' (oil on linen, 2018).

They are with us, always. There is no escaping their presence. Like unwanted guests, they never seem to leave. The idea that our true companions are actually the inanimate objects around us isn’t so far-fetched.

Thai artist Chayanin Kwangkaew, 28, offers an insightful study into this subject with his Silence Speaks solo exhibition at G13 Gallery in Petaling Jaya. The exhibition, which runs till June 23, marks the painter’s first solo with the gallery.

Previously, Chayanin, also known as Kapin, exhibited at G13 for the Gen. Y (2016) and Views From The 6ix (2016) group shows.

“The contents of the current series is about me learning to listen to my own feelings and thoughts. I also tried to connect with and ‘feel’ each of the objects that I found interesting,” says Chayanin, a fine arts graduate from Silpakorn University in Bangkok.

Chayanin’s Silence Speaks exhibition at G13 is a spread of 12 oil paintings centred on still life objects.

As surreal as it sounds, the young artist says the artworks reflect the connections he forged between his emotions and objects around him.

Chayanin says the Silence Speaks series is tied to a particularly intense period of soul-searching in his life. Photo: The Star/Glenn Guan

The ideas for this series came from a darker point in Chayanin’s life.

Rose (oil on linen, 2018).

“Depression came crashing into my life a few years ago. Back then, I was living alone ... in silence. But it was not entirely quiet. There were voices always talking to me. They were my own thoughts,” he recalls.

These days, Chayanin is in a happier place. He has been busy building up a profile – at home and abroad.

Last month, he was part of a group exhibition called Elements Of Breath in Melbourne, Australia, featuring eight Thai contemporary artists.

His other group exhibitions include The Concept Of Self: On Power, Identity And Labels (2017) at the Subhashok the Arts Centre in Thailand and also showing at Art Stage Singapore in 2016.

This G13 show is a timely exhibit to gauge how his art has grown in recent years.

“For me, the current series is a shift of subject matter from painting human figures to painting still life (works). Silence Speaks denotes a change from observing outer behaviours to looking at inner thoughts. I asked myself whether I saw ‘beauty’ in objects when I was feeling down. These thoughts eventually inspired my artworks.”

In realising this idea of “reality” on the canvas, Chayanin employed a wide combination of techniques in the Silence Speak series.

He captured the still life subjects with a monochromatic approach, using photographs in the studio to plan out the works.

“In the abstract parts, I preferred highly intense, vibrant brushstrokes ... this is where I added colours.”

Each of Chayanin’s 12 works in the Silence Speaks exhibition at represents a visual treat with his combination of monochromes and free gestural brushstrokes. Photo: The Star/Glenn Guan

If you look further at the works, Chayanin has reduced the intensity of the colours on canvas.

Indistinct (oil on linen, 2018).

“The shades are meant to capture emotions and feelings ... when someone is facing the darkest moments in life,” he explains.

One of the most striking works in Silence Speaks is an oil on linen painting called Rose, which features a single rose stalk in a glass jar, half-filled with water, sitting atop a block of wood.

The flower is in full bloom, the leaves still fresh and intact. There is deep melancholy in the painting, with the powder blue hue giving it a sombre tone.

“Brushstrokes are unpredictable. No one knows or can guess the outcome (on canvas). That’s how I felt during this particular time.”

Above all, Chayanin fondly recalls the many hours in the studio, where the preliminary ideas of Silence Speaks took shape.

“When I observed and sat still (at my work bench), there were these conversations that took place in my head. I came to realise that human feelings influence our vision to see things differently. There is beauty, joy and value in everything.”

Silence Speaks exhibition is on at G13 Gallery, Block B, Kelana Square, Petaling Jaya in Selangor till June 23. Open daily from 11am to 5pm. Closed on Sunday and public holidays. Visit: FB: G13 Gallery. Call: 03-7880 0991.

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