Cat paintings by Prang Vejjajiva

Fantasy and personal representations, not politics...and lots of cats.

PAINTING 

Cradling the cats

Fantasy and personal representations, not politics, abound in Prang Vejjajiva's debut exhibition

11/07/2013 

Parisa Pichitmarn

Take one look at Prang Vejjajiva's work on display now at Koi Art Gallery and it will tell you pretty much everything there is to know about the girl. There are no frills or BS ideals hidden behind any paintings in her exhibition "I Wonder, A Wonderland".

Prang, who has a degree in fine arts from Chulalongkorn University, is the eldest daughter of ex-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. But it'd be tactless to think she might be cunningly hiding clandestine political messages amidst the colourful cupcakes and curious cats, or that there's reason why cool tones (ahem, blue) are dominant and there are hardly any reds in her paintings. Don't get ahead of yourselves, because Prang firmly interrupts all of our attempts to find any signs of two-dimensional politicking.

"I'm not trying to get across any political or social issues. The paintings are all fantasy and hardly related to reality," she said.

Prang's love for and use of sweet, pastel colours might test your blood-sugar level, but for girly-girls like the artist herself, there is probably no combination more captivating than cats and candy.

According to Prang, the title of the exhibition fits her concept of creating a dreamlike wonderland, a secluded world where she can catch her breath and relax.

"I definitely don't want my audience to be stressed looking at it - I want them to feel good and to relax as they look at my paintings," said Prang.

With cats being the main subject, it's clear that the artist has a bit of a feline obsession, but she also sees herself in them.

"I have many characteristics quite similar to them: I love being independent and free and I love being in solitude in my own world. It's all a reflection of how I am," she explained.

It makes you wonder whether being the daughter of such an influential figure plays any part in making her so absorbed in her world, but Prang boldly answered: "I don't really worry about others and just do whatever I want to do when I go out." Her five paintings on the first floor of the gallery, which are large-scale oils (150cm x 180cm), are actually part of her thesis project for her degree.

"This whole set is about my personal world and spending time with myself, alone mostly. I'm sure everyone goes through hassle all day in the outside world: work, study, having to talk to so many people. It's so busy and frantic that I just want to relax and get away from all that. It's nice to spend some time with yourself and the way I unwind is to sleep or eat." She adds with a grin: "Food is like a friend."

Of course, all the sweet treats in the paintings are a reflection of Prang's love for just about anything that has sucrose and she admits that macaroons are her favourite. These depictions of dessert are likely to make your stomach rumble; as saccharine-dripping as these paintings are, it's not too overwhelmingly pink, with lots of darker hues to create some balance.

The paintings on the second floor are smaller (80cm x 100cm) and are less sugary as they are more sea-centred and inspired by trips to the beach. The main serving is fantasy but there's a pinch of surrealism; if you look closely, you will find many cat faces cleverly hidden within other elements in the painting, be they clouds, icebergs or jam rolls.

"It gives each picture more life and prevents it from being too simple," Prang said. "I want to express that being alone is not a sad thing, it can also be a happy time." The simplicity of the theme and style, yet on a grand scale, makes the series enjoyable. In fact, potential buyers can also turn these oil paintings into objects of entertainment: ask your visitors how many cats they see in each painting. Move onto macaroons or pairs of eyes after that.

As of now, the young artist is working on applying for a master's degree in fine arts in universities abroad. And much to her delight (if not to her parents'), she is going to have a pet cat of her own soon. But she also loves dogs (her household has two) and Prang is no stereotypical cat lady despite the fact that we'll probably see more of them in her future works. "I'm not really into sending underlying social messages. It'll be more about emotions and feelings as that's what I'm better at. The topics I explore [in the future] would change, but it should still have cats as it is a representation of myself."

"I Wonder, A Wonderland" is on view at Koi Art 

Gallery, Sukhumvit Soi 31, until July 31. 

The gallery opens daily from 11am-7pm. 

For more information, call 02-662-3218.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/art/359327/cradling-the-cats

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Writer: Jon Fernquest
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