World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 32 - Somsak Chaituch
At Art Square Amsterdam, I saw some large, colorful paintings with garlands and twists. The artists stood beside. His name was Somsak Chaituch. A week later I am in Amersfoort in a living room with Somsak’s paintings om the walls.
Somsak Chaituch (1967) was born in a small village in northern Thailand. He grew up surrounded by stunning nature and rich culture, both filled with warm colors. In 1995 he came to the netherlands to stufy art. He began training at the School of Arts in Utrecht. After two years he continued his bachelor towards autonomous art and in 2001 Somsak graduated with honors. Upon his graduation Somsak received the Graduation Award of SBK Amsterdam-Osdorp.
Between East and West
He continued his studies with a two-year master’s program at the Dutch Art Institute ArtEz in Enschede, where he also graduated, in 2003, with honors. Somsak Chaituch: ‘I had good teachers like Peter Struycken, Emo Verkerk and Rik Fernhout. Very good teachers. Especially Peter Struycken. I learned a lot. I also learned form famous artists – through them – always with the message not to go mimic them. We learned to be original, to have an own identity.’
Somsak’s identity is now obvious. Between East and West, he calls it. To East he derives the warm colors and the decorations, to the west structure and the sleek curved lines. For his creative work he received several awards. It did not mean he could live of this. ‘I therefore made commercial paintings of Buddha and monks for Thai restaurants for instance.’ In 2008 he received much criticism from the art world. ‘Somsak has a master’s degree but paints only Buddhas.’ This went to his heart and he stopped painting. Somsak opened a now thriving massage practise to earn a living.
In november 2013 Somsak started painting again, but no longer in commission. Naturally he developed his current style. Drawings form 2004, just after his degree, show elements of it. Somsak: ‘I was wondering, is a massage painting – a painting to capture feeling – possible? I searched at the internet and felt my creative sense coming back. I started with an elephant. I was somewhat satisfied. But it could be better, I felt.’
Long wavy lines arose subsequently in several beautiful paintings that I now see in the living room. All kinds of traditional Thai elements are emerging. In his youth Somsak helped in the production of traditional Thai carvings and learned the decorations he paints now. The patterns of the dresses of his mother echo in the abstract landscapes. Even his dreams he processes. In the painting Dreams dragons emerge.
Somsak: ‘I feel a background of centuries. While paintings, I feel to be a dragon.’ He shows me pictures of the first versions of Dreams. I see a painting with trees with black trunks and yellow skies. The painting appears to have been painted over several times to eventually become the dragon painting.
Somsak: ‘While painting, I discover things. Each painting actually is a series of paintings. Elements of earlier paintings I can use for new paintings.’ Fortunately he photographed those versions. On one painting he is still working, it has two by two meters, the largest of all. It is a self-portrait with hat.
Melody and rhythm
Somsak: ‘I keep wondering: how do I make art inbetween abstract and realistic? I do not use photographic technique, but I want to drop a recognizable object on the canvas. I find it important to convey a feeling.’
While working he is always listening to music: jazz and opera. The music you see in th paintings, which also have a melody and rhythm. Small color accents are repeated, always moving. Many decorations. Lots of red, purple, yellow and blue. He works with acrylic paint, for oil pain the is allergic. ‘Acrylic paint dries faster and is healthier.’
Last year, in 2014, Somsak received the Europe in Art Prize, which was awarded by The European Biennial Paris with the remark: ‘Chosen thanks to the great talent that your prestigious oeuvre shows’. Somsak hopes that it helps to make a real breakthrough and that he can live from his art. The award ceremony in Paris was linked with an exhibition of his works. In January 2015 he had an exhibition in a beautiful space in Amersfoort. He hopes to see his work hanging once in a museum.
Through Facebook Thailand is already somewhat familair with his work. A major Thai artist, coeval Somsak, Vorasan Supap, reacted by seeing his work: WOW! Beautiful! In April he and his partner Ton Beenen go to Thailand to talk about opportunities to leave his work in a museum. He is going to talk with a curator, with Vorasan Supap, but also with the National Museum and MOCA Bangkok, the Museum of Contemporary Art. Somsak: ‘All top artists hang at MOCA. The founder of MOCA is a true art collector and is super rich. He also has good contacts with othet MOCA’s in the world.
Somsak Chaituch: ‘Life is very short, but a work of art remains. A painting can get a few hundreds years, maybe a thousand years and still longer. I this way my signature remains: this is Somsak.’