North of Thailand is home to many a painter; some born and raised
there, others outsiders implanted by circumstances, Bangkokians
who fled the capital's pollution, stress and high cost of living.
The 43 year-old painter Muangthal Busamaro is a blend of both. He
hails from the village of Doi Saket in Chiang Mai district. He came
south and graduated from Silapakorn University.
he did a stint in advertising, worked on book illustrations, taught
some art classes at Rangsit University, and got fed up with life
in Bangkok, and the rat race that befalls most individuals who
earn their keep in a big bustling metropolis like Bangkok. He
moved back north to his ancestral village where he has been enjoying
the relaxing rhythm of rural existence.
with him at Suraporn gallery, on the ground floor of Tisco Building
on the corner of South Sathorn Road and Soi Saladaeng, where he
held his first one-man show.
presented 40 oil canvases titled "Inspired Moments", a
name that evokes the idea of thoughts and images gathered within
a personal diary. The collection took him two whole years of labour.
Before that he was content exhibiting in the company of other artists
locally, and in Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Japan.
Looking at his previous work, his stylistic approach has not changed
much during the last decade, except for a slow naturalistic permutation
towards Fauvism and Hard Edge,after passing through Impressionism
and the Naive. The group of 40 paintings on view at Suraporn's reflects
these tendencies. Some landscapes are Gauguin-like, while a street
scene and some scenes of women nude or scantily clad bring to mind
contemporary Vietnamese painting.
an obvious simplification of colours and a hardening of contours
going on, but it is too soon to figure out whether Muangthai Busamaro
is reverting towards abstracting nature once more.
Technically, he applies the oils
thickly with brushes and palette kriifes. Sometimes he prepares
the ground of his canvases with applications of sarid to enrich
and to get a rough texture.
He depicts his environment, the
Thai countryside, sifted through the prism of his imagination.
What do you have? Temples, farmers busy in rice fields, and juxtaposed
with the series of women bathing, napping, reading, half- naked,
comfortably lolling about indoors.
" I titled my exhibition "Inspired Moments" because
of the stylistic variations that characterised my latest collection.
I love colour and exoticism. I pick colours from comic books and
local festivals. I represent the world, the goings-on, not solely
nature, that's why I place a human in every compositions, tiny
as the figure might be. I prefer the harmonious, so I idealise
daily life, the small occupations that bind us to existence.
paintings are usually small or medium, rarely large; a reduced scale
suits me best; it allows me better control over the working process.
And then each scene consists of vignettes, glimpses of my home world
in Doi Saket village. In contrast, still lifes do not interest me,
things proper leave me indifferent.
ideas pop in my head at any time day and night. I see images and
colour schemes. I do not deal with formal perspectives, I rather
rely on the interplay of planes and shades, and flat colours."
This translates in some of his compositions looking flat like
paper collages, while others give the illusion of false perspective
sin an aerial manner.
The sketch of his life is straightforward.
No spectacular high points emerged during our conversation. He
is quiet, not given to eccentricities and wild opinions, father
to a oneyear old daughter born in Japan during his wife's year
long fellowship stay in Okayama. He spent six months in Japan.
He was impressed by theJapanese traditional taste that manifests
through all the cultural achievements born of that country: architecture,
materials (timber, silk, lacquer), gardens, clothing, colour sense,
and even the smell of food he says. He caught on with the subtleties
of restful and complex colours, the myriads of greys, for example,
a color he never used in the past. He became sensitive to the
orderliness of Japanese life, and the restraint of minimalism
and the peacefulness that comes with it.
" I am a slow worker. I work on groups of canvases at a time,
slowly refining each one, changing this and that, details, I mean.
I am a traditionalist, yet I am open to all sorts of painterly
keep painting because that's how I get my happiness. In the process
I keep looking for the perfect painting. I had to leave Bangkok
and relocate to Doi Saket, you know the noise, the traffic jams.
In the north, the quality of life is still good, peaceful, inexpensive.
A year ago I became a father, that forced a change on my habits,
usually an artist's studio is messy and upside down, because of
her I felt I wanted to make a nest, nice and clean. Toy colours
and baby music I find soothing. A child is cute and funny, at the
same time you must learn to control your temper. I have done lots
of paintings of my daughter alone, and posing together with my wife,
but these I do not want to show commercially. I am keeping them
for her, to give to her later, as a record of her childhood."
As to his
future activities, the artist offers no clues, "I'll just
be working on and on," he says, "and other shows will
It is true,
if you live close to nature and removed from the pull of consumerism,
your cravings slow down and you stay more focused on the present
rather than playing in your head with sand castles in fantasy
things as fate delivers them to your doorstep, you don't spread
yourself thin. Even though the exhibition has now come down, you
can still view Muangthai Busamaro's "Inspired Moments"
at Suraporn Gallery. It's a collection that successfully catches
the laidback charm of life in Thailand's north.
in Thailand Magazine: February, 2004