Unleashing the flood

At Bangkok painting bar Soul Salt River City, a collaboration between two artists inspired people to freely express themselves

Chalah Chaveesuk and Maya Prat at the workshop. (Photo: Natcha Jantararotai)

The Embassy of Israel recently embarked on a thrilling artistic journey titled "Maya x Nui: A Painting Workshop By Israeli And Thai Artists" at Bangkok's painting bar Soul Salt River City, near the Chao Phraya River, to build connections between people.

In the workshop, Maya Prat, an Israeli comic who creates art projects for culture hubs, and Chalah "Nui" Chaveesuk, a Thai contemporary artist who encourages autistic children to realise their full potential through painting, want everyone to break away from their traditional belief that "only artists can master art" and freely express their creative soul on a canvas.

As both artists believe that people can create art with no professional expertise, they created their first artwork Flood as an inspiration for the workshop's participants to develop their skills and talent.

Their acrylic painting provides a positive definition of "flood". Beyond a natural disaster, this term refers to a flood of ideas, feelings or changes.

"For me, it means the movement of connection. The flood can be like our emotions, just like something coming to the surface. We start sketching something in our mind and then the brain pops out," Prat said.

Chalah further explained: "If there is a flood, what is the last thing we have to lift up above the water? It is the brain. The brain is not just a thought but a belief because the last thing you don't want to lose is your belief." Accordingly, he drew this brain in both hands to show that the only way to stop ourselves from drowning is to keep our minds above the water.

"So it became a topic of our workshop. If they have a topic about the flood, what kind of flood is it going to be for them? It can be anything. It can be happiness. It can be a disaster. It can be inside people's minds, like deep emotions," he added.

Prat's comic version of Flood. (Photo: Maya Prat)

Meanwhile, Chalah shared the story behind their workshop's theme and venue. Starting with the first day he met Prat for a discussion of their first project, he said: "When I got there, near this area, there was a flood everywhere. And I was like, 'Oh my god, first flood in 10 years and it just happens today when I have to do an important thing'. Then I found her just eating noodles.

"We were stuck in the middle of the flood and thought how we could get to River City. So we took off our shoes and walked there. Then we started thinking about the flood."

Prat also captured this moment and painted a picture in her comic version, thinking she can use art to help people express their feelings.

"I always do art to influence people. I draw something about places and the people I meet. And the comic is all about being simple and a little bit peculiar. People immediately get it. I want to preserve this, mixed with Nui's art style," she said.

Chalah Chaveesuk's first piece of the 2021 series Abstract Meditation shows his signature style. (Photo: Chalah Chaveesuk)

While Prat's art identity is simplicity, Chalah's signature is spiral lines as he uses forms, shapes and colours rather than symbolism in his abstract art to vividly evoke a variety of emotions from him to his audience.

Chalah believes the beauty of nature is a rich source of inspiration for many artists but it depends on "which angle the artist will get" and "how they turn nature into art".

During his time in Hua Hin, Chalah joined an artist community in Cicada Market and enjoyed the beach every morning. He appreciated how "nature creates abstract random pieces of stuff on the beach" and these things soaked into his body, naturally emerging into his art.

Their work Flood features both their signature styles and their personal experiences, as well as their love of nature.

Prat gives advice to participants at the workshop. (Photo: Natcha Jantararotai)

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