National artist Thawan Duchanee dies

National artist Thawan Duchanee dies

Distinguished national artist Thawan Duchanee died yesterday at the age of 74. Here are excerpts from the Bangkok Post's front page obituary and a feature in today's Life Section.

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Artist Thawan Dachanee visits his art exhibition at the Siam Paragon shopping centre on Dec 16, 2103. He died on Wednesday. APICHIT JINAKUL


National artist Thawan Duchanee dies


Distinguished national artist Thawan Duchanee died yesterday at the age of 74.

Born on Sept 24, 1939, in Chiang Rai, Thawan studied at the Poh Chang Art and Craft College in Bangkok.

He furthered his studies at Sikpakorn University, where he was groomed by the late professor Silpa Bhirasri.

Thawan also earned a doctorate degree in metaphysics and aesthetics from the Royal Academy of Visual Arts, Amsterdam, Holland.

His paintings are widely praised, both in Thailand and abroad, but it was in his home country where his art was truly appreciated.

He was declared a national artist in 2001. Thawan is survived by four sons.

Thawan Dachanee shown with one his paintings in 2004. KITJA APICHONROJAREK

The royal bathing rite for Thawan is to be held in Sala 1 of Wat Depsirin tomorrow at 1pm. Chanting rites will then be held at 7pm from tomorrow until Sept 10.

The royal funeral ceremony is set for Sept 11 at 5pm.

National artist Chalermchai Kositpipat mourned the loss of his inspiration and idol.

He said he viewed Thawan’s death as “the world’s great loss’’, because his paintings and sculptures made Thailand famous in the international art world.

“He left behind an example for other artists to follow.”

He urged young artists to see Thawan’s artistic excellence as a model and follow his path to success.


An excerpt from a feature in today's Life Section: Thawan Duchanee: Losing a legend, by Kong Rithdee (

In the early 70s, Thawan's set of paintings that interpreted Buddhism in a progressive and somewhat unusual lightdepicting Lord Buddha and the Mara — became a case of notoriety that signified a shift in the way Thai art made its contact with the larger society. Seeing the paintings as blasphemy, vandals walked in and scratched his pieces. It caused uproar. Thawan, true to his jovial form, said that the vandalism was a case of misinterpretation of his works, which of course promoted the Buddhist spirits, then he proceeded to destroy most of the paintings from that series. Only a few of them are left.

'United' by Thawan Duchaneewhich sold for 190,000 baht at a charity auction in 2005.

After the incident, Thawan's post-tradition take on Buddhism received a major boost. He had a major exhibition at the British Council in Bangkok in 1973 and one of the guests was MR Kukrit Pramoj, a former prime minister and renaissance man with substantial cultural influence. In no small part, Mr Kukrit's presence served as an endorsement that Thawan wasn't a subversive force, but an artist whose vision was pushing the country into a new artistic realm.

As his fame rose, Thawan challenged another long-standing myth about being an artist in Thailand: He made money from his art, and he wasn't shy about it. Thawan often said, again more in jest than in arrogance, that a few brushstrokes could earn him a million baht. It was true, but it's also a good-humoured exaggeration and Thawan said it not to brag but probably to prove that art could indeed have a modern value. Internationally, his works could fetch millions as well. One of his most legendary projects was when, in 1977, Thawan was commissioned to paint a few hundred rooms at the 700-year-old Gottorf Castle in Germany. The artist took three years to complete the paintings.

A lush green area surrounds the ‘‘Ban Dam [Black House]’’ where national artist Thawan Duchanee exhibited his paintings. NAOWARAT SUKSAMRAN

Throughout his career, Thawan didn't have all that many exhibitions in Thailand, but the masterpiece that most Thais are familiar with is his iconic Ban Dam compound in Chiang Rai, which is open to visitors. A collection of almost 40 houses, mostly in black, is an architectural cosmology of Thawan's philosophy and a museum for his love of the dazzling as well as the macabre.

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  • abroad: in or to a foreign country - ในต่างประเทศ
  • aesthetics (noun): the study of beauty and art and the understanding of beautiful things - สุนทรียศาสตร์, การศึกษาความงาม
  • appreciated: recognised for having good or special qualities - ประทับใจ, ซาบซึ้ง
  • architectural: involving styles or ways of designing buildings - ในเชิงสถาปัตยกรรม
  • arrogance: thinking you are better or more important than other people and behaving in a way that is rude and too confident - ความเย่อหยิ่ง, ความจองหอง
  • auction: a usually public sale of goods or property, where people make higher and higher bids (= offers of money) for each thing, until the thing is sold to the person who will pay most - การขายโดยการประมูล, การขายทอดตลาด
  • blasphemy (noun): behaviour or language that insults or shows a lack of respect for God or religion - การสบประมาทหรือการดูหมิ่น, การสบประมาทศาสนา
  • boost: something that helps or encourages somebody/something - สิ่งกระตุ้น
  • brag (verb): to speak too proudly about what you have done or what you own - พูดอวดดี
  • career: a job or series of related jobs that you do, especially a profession that you spend a lot of your working life in - อาชีพ
  • challenge (verb): to question whether something/someone is trueful, accurate, or legal - คัดค้าน
  • chant: to sing a piece of religious music using a very limited range of notes - ร้องเพลงสวด
  • charity: involving giving money or help to people who are poor or ill, or who need advice and support - การกุศล
  • commission: to officially ask for a piece of work to be done - มอบหมายให้ทำ
  • compound: an area in which a group of buildings stands - บริเวณ
  • cosmology (noun): the study of the nature and origin of the universe - ผลงานยอดเยี่ยม
  • dazzling: extremely impressive - น่าประหลาดใจ, น่าพิศวง, น่าอัศจรรย์
  • depict: to represent or show something in a picture or story - พรรณนา, บรรยายให้เห็นภาพ
  • distinguished: describes a respected and admired person, or their work - มีชื่อเสียง
  • doctorate degree: the highest degree or qualification from a university - ปริญญาเอก
  • endorsement: official approval - การรับรอง การลงนามในเอกสาร
  • exaggeration (noun): a statement or description that makes something seem larger, better, worse or more important than it really is; the act of making a statement like this - การกล่าวเกินจริง
  • excellence: the quality of being extremely good - ความเป็นเลิศ
  • exhibition: a public show where art or other interesting things are put so that people can go and look at them - นิทรรศการ งานแสดง
  • fetch: to be sold for a particular amount of money - ขายในราคาหนึ่ง
  • funeral: a ceremony that takes place after someone dies - งานศพ
  • groom: to prepare someone for a particular job or activity by giving them special training and attention - เตรียมการ, เตรียมตัว
  • iconic: well known and acting as a sign or symbol of something - มีชื่อเสียงและเป็นสัญลักษณ์แทนบาง
  • idol: a person or thing that is loved and admired very much - คนหรือสิ่งที่ได้รับความชื่นชมหรือคลั่งไคล้อย่างมาก
  • incident (noun): something that happens - หตุการณ์
  • influence: the power to have an effect on people or things - อิทธิพล
  • inspiration: someone or something that gives you new ideas or enthusiasm to do something - แรงบันดาลใจ
  • interpreted: understood in a particular way — - ตีความ, แปลความหมาย
  • jovial: very cheerful and friendly - เริงร่า, เบิกบาน, สนุกสนาน
  • late: dead - ที่ล่วงลับไปแล้ว
  • legendary: very famous or well known for a long time -
  • light (noun): a way of seeing or understanding something, especially good, bad, favourable, unfavourable, etc. -
  • macabre (noun): very strange and unpleasant because it is connected with death or violence - น่ากลัว,น่าขยะแขยง,น่าขนลุก,เกี่ยวกับความตาย
  • masterpiece (noun): a work of art such as a painting, film, or book that is made with great skill - ผลงานชิ้นเอก,ผลงานชิ้นเด่น, ผลงานชิ้นโบว์แดง
  • metaphysics (noun): the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of existence, truth and knowledge - อภิปรัชญา
  • misinterpretation (noun): the wrong interpretation for something; the wrong understanding, explanation or meaning of some event -
  • model: something such as a system that can be copied by other people - น่าถือเป็นแบบอย่าง, ต้นแบบ
  • mourn : to feel extremely sad because someone has died and to express this in public - ไว้อาลัย, ไว้ทุกข์, เศร้าโศก
  • myth (noun): an ancient story or set of stories, especially explaining the early history of a group of people or about natural events and facts - นิทานปรัมปรา, ตำนาน
  • notoriety: the state of being famous for something bad - ชื่อเสียงในทางที่ไม่ดี
  • philosophy: a set of beliefs or an attitude to life that guides somebody's behaviour - ปรัชญา
  • praise: to express strong approval or admiration - ยกย่อง, ชื่นชม
  • presence: the fact of being in a particular place, thing or situation - การเข้าร่วม, การมีอยู่
  • proceed: to carry out an activity - ดำเนินการ
  • progressive (adj): in favour of new ideas, modern methods and change - ที่ก้าวหน้าขึ้น, ที่พัฒนาขึ้น
  • renaissance (noun): renaissance - a situation when there is new interest in a particular subject, form of art, etc. after a period when it was not very popular
  • rite: a traditional ceremony, especially a religious one - พิธีกรรม (พระราชพิธี)
  • sculptures: solid objects that people make as works or art by shaping a substance such as stone, metal or wood - รูปสลัก, รูปปั้น, รูปหล่อ
  • set (adjective): fixed, not changing, already decided or scheduled - จัดไว้, กำหนดล่วงหน้า
  • shift: a change in something - การเปลี่ยน
  • shy: nervous and embarrassed in the company of other people, especially people who you do not know - ขี้อาย
  • signify: to be a sign of something; to mean - มีความหมาย
  • substantial: large in size, value or importance - มากมาย, ยิ่งใหญ่, สำคัญ
  • subversive (adj): intended to destroy the power or influence of a government or an established belief - ซึ่งล้มล้าง,ซึ่งทำลาย,ซึ่งถูกโค่นล้ม
  • survived by (verb): to live or exist longer than somebody/something; to continue living after someone, usually a family member - มีอายุยืนกว่า
  • uproar: angry public criticism of something - ความเอะอะ, ความวุ่นวาย
  • urge (verb): to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take - วิงวอน ย้ำเตือน
  • vandal (noun): a person who deliberately destroys or damages public property - ผู้ทำลายทรัพย์สินโดยเฉพาะของรัฐอย่างไร้เหตุผล
  • vision: the ability to imagine how a country, society, industry, etc. could develop in the future and to plan in a suitable way - วิสัยทัศน์

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