Thailand and the West: Depictions of Interactions by Jirapat Tatsanasomboon

One of Thailand’s leading contemporary artists, Jirapat Tatsanasomboon is famous for paintings that offer commentary on the interactions between Thai culture and Western influences. This is accomplished through a combination of traditional Thai iconography of heroes and mythical figures (most of whom are characters in the Thai national epic the Ramakien, derived from the Hindu Ramayana) and symbols and trends of Western high art and popular culture.

At times, the two phenomena blend easily – as in the paintings that make references to the works of Piet Mondrian (Composition in Red Blue and Yellow), Vincent van Gogh (The Starry Night) and Edvard Munch (The Scream)…





At other moments, we find loud and aggressive confrontation and resistance – as in the paintings that show a fight with Spiderman and a Thai hand directly aiming a gun at what happens to be the hand of God in Michelangelo’s majestic Creation of Adam. Such pieces seem more political. They are meant to check and contain the advance of Western imperialism and cultural hegemony.




What’s interesting is that although the artist’s body of work openly acknowledges the impact of the West it simultaneously portrays Thailand not as a passive entity that could be easily manipulated – but rather as a force that is fully aware of the changes it has already undergone and those that it is in the process of experiencing.

Born in 1971 in Samut Prakarn, Jirapat Tatsanasomboon completed his Master’s Degree at Silpakorn University in Bangkok in 1999. He has participated in several art shows in Thailand and also in Korea, the US, Singapore, China, India, Monaco and Argentina and sells regularly at international auctions. His paintings were on display at ArtScience Museum, Singapore in 2012 in the exhibition “Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal”. Jirapat is the only Thai artist who is featured in the new Thames & Hudson book100 Painters of Tomorrow (2014).

Learn more about the artist in this informative monograph Intercultural Journey – the Art of Jirapat Tatsanasomboon authored by Rathsaran Sireekan, published by Thavibu Gallery, Bangkok in 2014.

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Images used with permission.