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    Sale 2380

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    25 November 2007, Hong Kong

  • Lot 55

    THAWAN DUCHANEE (b. Thailand 1939)

    Mythical figures

    Price Realised  


    THAWAN DUCHANEE (b. Thailand 1939)
    Mythical figures
    gold paint on wood
    Base of pyramid: 31 x 31 x 31 in. (79 x 79 x 79 cm.); total height: 47 1/4 in. (120 cm.)

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    "Thawan's work is profoundly inspired by Buddhism. The fantastic human figures, strange creatures and Buddha images were used to symbolize a message of truths, defined in Buddhism as greed, lust, hatred and violence. He criticised the abusers of Buddhism through the use of iconography and allegory. Thawan's concern and commitment to Buddhism, its philosophy, concept of reality and significance for people made him look beneath the surface gloss of Buddhist art." (Karen Lim, "Thawan Duchanee: Thai-Buddhist Art" in 12 ASEAN ARTISTS, Valentine Willie edit., Balai Seni, Lukis Negara, 2000, pp. 47-48). After his six-years study in The Netherlands, Thawan began to question his own direction and identity as a Thai artist. Throughout the sixties and seventies, the artist created a rich source of works that use the imageries from Buddhism. "The result visually incorporates a fresh expression of Buddhist concepts. But perhaps the most original element in Thawan's works was its muscularity, its sense of strength, power and raw guts. This was something quite new for Thai art, which was considered traditionally soft and decorative" (Ibid, p. 48).

    The present work which is a wooden pyramid structure that is meticulously hand-painted with a multitude of mythical figures. The style of the work evokes of traditional Thai manuscripts or mural drawings that are ostensibly crowded in which the viewer would struggle to read a space in the composition. The gold hue used for the present work is also reminiscent of the gold leaf used for the Buddhistic scriptures to stress the sanctity of the manuscripts. In many ways, the artist is trying to blur the lines between a crafty work and a work of art. The gold hue contrasted intensely with the black background and accentuates the images on the work: the beautiful, the grotesque, the divine and the ghostly. One realizes, the 3 triangular panels presents a catalogue of images from which one would see the source for the artist as he creates his world of imagined monsters and gods.