Coffee on canvas
Jimmy Engineer’s innovative collaboration makes coffee beans an integral part of inspiring paintings.
Few people can resist the aroma of coffee beans as they’re ground to make our favourite espresso, cappuccino or latte. But there are times when even the best baristas might be unaware of other novel applications for the beans.
Vivid colours are intended to remind people that they need colour to give them energy and inspiration.
In Bangkok, 10 kilogrammes of coffee beans are integral elements in 14 wonderful paintings by the famed Pakistani-American artist Jimmy Engineer, part of a collaboration between Black Canyon Coffee and the Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Art.
“The first time I visited Jimmy Engineer’s exhibition in Bangkok last year, I really admired his talent and painting skills,” said Pravit Chitnarapong, the founder and CEO of Black Canyon, which has more than 300 branches around the region.
“His expertise is not confined to one particular technique of drawing, but spans the spectrum using oils, spray paint and other mediums. After we met and discussed it, the idea of creating artworks from coffee beans emerged and has finally come to life as you all can see now.”
As someone with a keen interest in arts and culture, Mr Pravit said he greatly admired Mr Engineer’s generosity in donating the artworks created for this imaginative project to Black Canyon.
“He is living proof of pure talent. He only requested that we prepare the location, canvases, spray paints and packages of coffee beans,” said Mr Pravit. “His imagination was far beyond what I could have pictured in my head in the beginning.
Coffee-infused paintings form a backdrop to dining.
“Moreover, I was even more surprised to see that within a few days’ time he was able to finish the project. Once he starts painting on the canvas, he never stops.”
“This project is an abstract art exhibition, which was inspired by the aim to make a difference in lives in society,” explained Mr Engineer. “Each artwork uses spray paint to create the vivid colours along with the main subject. It’s the first time that I’ve ever used coffee beans to be integrated with my artwork and I really enjoyed it.”
Apart from being an artist, Jimmy Engineer is also a social activist. For more than 25 years, his passion for helping others and ambition to help make a difference in society has been given vivid expression in some 3,000 paintings.
The 60-year-old artist’s works cover a variety of themes including landscapes, cultural and religious paintings, abstract works, calligraphy, historical paintings and self-portraits. Many are in private collections in Italy, France, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, England, Sweden, Turkey, the US, India, China, Thailand, Singapore and Pakistan.
Jimmy Engineer has held more than 60 art exhibitions around the world, has led more than 100 walks for noble causes and arranged more than 140 awareness programmes for handicapped, blind and orphaned children.
Jimmy Engineer: “As an artist, you always need to be able to stretch your imagination.”
The collaboration between Mr Engineer and Mr Pravit reflects their belief that at a time when bad news seems to be everywhere, art can help people to revitalse their strength and energy and find inspiration.
The coffee beans in this project were used to represent the widespread acceptance and enjoyment of coffee and the values of fellowship that coffee drinking represents in society. The vivid colours are intended to remind us that we cannot live our lives without colour to refresh, renew and restart our lives.
Mr Engineer said project was a great experience for him given that it was outside the area he usually works on.
“As an artist, you always need to be able to stretch your imagination. I really appreciate all the hospitality and kind arrangements from all parties for making this project possible,” he said.
In the future, he said, he would like to paint more artworks about Thailand to reflect Thai cultural values and ways of life. He is a Zoroastrian but the Buddhist way of living has always attracted his interest.
“Art is the universal language. I always create what I feel at that moment,” he says.
“Black Canyon: The Coffee Art” is open for public viewing at the Black Canyon Coffee restaurant at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok until May 1