signed (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
88 x 107 cm. (34 5/8 x 42 1/8 in.)
Painted circa. 1980s
Acquired directly from the artist
Sale room notice
Please note that the image orientation of Lot 386 printed in the catalogue should be rotated 90 degrees to the right. Please refer to for the correct image orientation.

Brought to you by

Jessica Hsu
Jessica Hsu

Lot Essay

These two lots by Thawan Duchanee epitomise the artist's distinctive style and demonstrate the sheer breadth of his talent. Both pieces offer unique reinterpretations of their subjects: the one depicting a typical city scene in Thailand, the other a modern Buddhist monk. Although varying in artistic techniques, visible in each are the artist's personal meditation on the Thai way of life, traditions and identity. Thawan's renowned tendency to compose bold and powerful displays of local subjects combined with Western stylistic practices is wholly evident in both of these works.

Born in the northern province of Chang Rai in 1939, Thawan later studied under the late sculptor Corrado Feroci, whom was responsible for introducing modern art practice in Thailand. From 1964-1968 he was awarded a scholarship to study at the Rihks Akademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) whereby he gained a more mature understanding of Western artistic practices. He has since incorporated Surrealist, Modernist and Expressionist influences into his aesthetic vocabulary.

These paintings have had a particularly interesting journey. From a young age, the present owner remembers the strong presence of the Rickshaw (Lot 385) work in their family home in Bangkok, where the family had moved to originally from the Netherlands. When they later immigrated to Canada in 1975, the paintings were taken with them: Rickshaw, the father's favorite, was hung in his study, whilst the Monk (Lot 384) was displayed in the entrance hallway. Their parents were unaware then of the artist's ever growing reputation as a leading contemporary Thai artist of his time.

It was not until the owners reached out to a friend working in the Chiang Mai art scene that they realised the great importance and influence of these works in the family's collection. It was discovered that the pieces were most probably bought whilst Thawan was still living and studying in Bangkok– giving the works a special history and provenance. The seller was surprised that the two pieces, which had looked so unalike and which had hung in completely different settings in the house for many years, were indeed by the same single artist.

In Rickshaw, the viewer is given a window into a rare moment of quietude in Bangkok's notoriously busy and chaotic streets. Thawan's use of vibrant and textured colour make this piece come alive, perhaps hinting of many untold narratives observed that have occurred in this scene.

Monk reveals a rarer side to the workings of Thawan's artistic mind. Known for his controversial expressions of Buddhism, this work presents a dynamic interpretation of a Thai monk in which we can see Thawan's hallmark style embedded throughout. His use of bold pictorial lines, impressive composition and characteristic brushstrokes give a strong emotional and spiritual quality to this profound figure.

Monk shows early stylistic hallmark's of Duchanee's later and most visually-iconic works of dynamic, swirling compositions of powerful creatures dominantly rendered in black and red, and contracted with white and gold accents. Shark (Lot 386) is an interesting example of this later style, depicting a wideeyed shark, jaws agape, surrounded by bold splashes of sea foam, capturing nature's forces.

Overall, these works perfectly reflect the versatility of Thawan's mastery of painting. They show his unique trajectory in search for a Thai identity and his exploration of nationalist sentiments; one which has made the artist an internationally acclaimed Thai and Asian artist.

More from Asian 20th Century Art (Day Sale) Including a Selection of Japanese Woodblock Prints from Private Collections

View All
View All