signed in Thai, inscribed 'L.A.' and dated '88' (lower left)
oil on canvas
171 x 128 cm. (67 3/8 x 50 3/8 in.)
Painted in 1988
Private Collection, Japan

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Jessica Hsu
Jessica Hsu

Lot Essay

Rich in culture and ideology, Thailand in the twentieth century was a vibrant nation which left imprints on the art produced. This season, Christie's is pleased to offer abstract paintings by three distinguished Thai modern artists of the period, Prataung Emjaroen, Pichai Nirand and Damrong Wonguparaj.

Born in 1935, Pratuang Emjaroen is a celebrated Thai visual artist who maintains a successful international career to date. Named the National Artist of Thailand in 2005, the self-taught painter's inquisitive nature played a significant part in developing the different periods of his creative overvue.

Around the 1960s, Emjaroen's works started to have a distinct abstract quality to them as he delved deep into an exploration of colour theory. This interest in colour continued to stay with him throughout his artistic pursuits as he travelled widely. Inspired and embracing the world around him, Emjaroen's paintings matured into a visual expression of his experiences and emotions. No. 1 (Lot 389) and No. 2 (Lot 388) are beautiful examples of the graceful and richly coloured paintings of this period. Executed two years apart between 1988-1990, both works are similarly characterised by the artist's use of rich oils and a ruling palette of blazing yellows, orange and reds. Colours blend seamlessly against one another as his brush sweeps in additional strokes of blues, greens and white onto his canvas.

Masterpieces in their own right, both lots speak of a harmony and balance that reflects the artist's way of life and his belief that all things happen "in the course of nature".

A fellow recipient of the National Artist of Thailand salute for the Visual Arts category in 2003, Pichai Nirand (b.1936) is an expressionist and surrealist painter who works in oils and mixed media. Shortly after graduating in Fine Arts from Silpakorn University, his attention quickly turned from figurative to abstraction as a preferred form of creative expression.

Highly influenced by Buddhist philosophy, Nirand's dense works often exude an underlying sense of serenity and reflection. With the symbolic imagery of the lotus flower encapsulated in a soft globe of pink and purple hues, Untitled (Lot 390) invites the viewer to dwell upon the cyclic theme of life. Painted in 1989, Untitled (Lot 391) still retains significant elements of his early figurative style with precise and delicate brushwork. On the other hand, strong and swift strokes of green, blue and purple govern Untitled as the brief outlines of fishes stacked against one another are blurred. By the time this lot was executed in 1995, Nirand had well established the expressive means in which he represented his spiritual beliefs and his life-long study of Buddhist ideology.

Creating paintings that were also rooted in Buddhist beliefs, the last artist of this trio, Damrong Wonguparaj began his artistic career as a student at Silpakorn University, the Slade School of Fine Art and the University of Pennsylvania.

With painterly techniques influenced by both Thai and Western traditions, Wongaparaj produced mixed media and oil works that emanated a simple peacefulness. Abstract (Lot 387) is a wondrous example as neat strokes of paint converge beyond the impressionistic depiction of a tree. Upclose, tiny dots of paint cohabit alongside large ink-like brushwork against an earthen background. A vision of lines and traditional tones, the present lot highlights Wongaparaj's ability execute to a reimagined version life and Nature on canvas.

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