Hear the tiger roar

Artists hope the big cat's fighting spirit can help those facing difficult times

Acrylic-on-linen painting by Supamas Taveechotipart.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have lost their loved ones and become discouraged. Some companies filed for bankruptcy because of business failures. Artists also were impacted by this global disaster.

With that in mind, curator and owner of Pagoda Art Club, Charnchai Siriwittayacharoen, began the Year of the Tiger by holding the group exhibition "Roar" to return happiness and strength to people's lives. Selected artworks from the Roar collection are now on display at Pagoda Art Club, River City Bangkok.

Inspired by Charnchai's personal life and spirit, the exhibition's main theme is a tiger that rises up against all pain and roars with dignity to show its great perseverance in the face of difficulty. Suffering from cancer, the curator never lamented his fate and firmly said: "When I am in pain, I am sad, alone. Don't drag others down. Just like a tiger, live with dignity and keep fighting. Never give up. Then, the success is there."

In honour of their curator, many participating artists deliberately created more than one artwork and some tried to give their paintings to Charnchai so that he would earn more income for cancer treatment. However, he refused to accept their work for free as he didn't wish to take advantage of their kindness but instead "live like a tiger".

Tiger Boy by Chainarong Kongklin. 

"Don't put others out. Try to rely on your own until you can't bear it anymore. We must have a tiger heart. And this is the key concept," Charnchai said.

Still, the curator left this theme Roar open to interpretation and Thailand's emerging artists could freely express their different perspectives as well as creativity through their own artworks. In Sirawait Chaturaphattranon's acrylic-on-linen painting, this Thai young artist depicted the cartoon character Fred Flintstone saying "It is just a cat," in an imitation of Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who said Covid "is just a flu".

Another young painter, Wanda Chaima drew herself as a rat bitten by a crime of passion in the form of a tiger. After learning from a big mistake in the past, the artist said: "Before it became this painting, I made a mistake, and I already knew if I kept doing it, there would be consequences. Still, I kept doing it. Just like this rat, it doesn't try to walk away from this tiger, this passion, this lust. Eventually, the tiger eats this rat, making it painful. After finishing this painting, bad things happened because of my action." Wanda hesitantly admitted that her mistake involved sexual misconduct.

Fighter 1 and Fighter 2 by Terinda Kaewsuwan. (Photo: River City Bangkok)

Sirirat Chumyen, a surrealist artist, usually paints female portraits on canvas to express their feminism and beauty as she is interested in the aesthetic appeal of women's curves, shapes and delicate skin. In her previous artwork, she portrayed a woman's sexual desire until the painter undertook deeper research on femininity.

"A woman's body is not sexual objectification any more. I see more than that. And I want my work to represent woman's power because this power is much more beautiful. So female nudity is not just a nude photo. It is not about sexual passion anymore. But it is about a woman's confidence in her shape. This is her right to show her body," she said.

In her painting, Sirirat focused more on the human body and created fine details in a woman's eyes and body shape to express female power and self-confidence behind the allure of a tiger.

Tiger's Heart by Naidee Changmoh. 

It took the artist two months to complete the large oil colour on linen painting as this fabric made it more difficult to delineate flowers on satin, including controlling light and shadow. Sirirat added: "It is really hard to paint on linen and make this satin look pale, translucent, make this woman's eyes look fierce but calm."

Seemingly, this is the most challenging part of her creative process to lead her audience to touch women's power and energy through the eyes and all elements of this painting.

Meanwhile, Palut Marod, winner of the 2021 Asian contemporary art gallery portrait competition, created a pair of abstract paintings featuring the portrayal of a white tiger with his messages that aimed to deliver emotional support for those suffering from the pandemic.

Oil-on-linen painting by Kriengkrai Kunphan. 

In this series, the artist applied the butterfly effect by pouring a mix of acrylic colours on linen and stamping it on another linen. He said: "I'm a painter. I'm a creator. We need to find new techniques and inspiration for ourselves and our followers. It is like we taste a new flavour of food. So, this time, I don't use any brush but draw a quick sketch and mix the acrylics in a sauce bottle. Then squeeze them out in the way I want."

As Palut aspired to rebuild hope and strength after the global crisis, he selected only delicate pastels to make the white tiger look more calm and gentle yet independent and strong.

"The tiger represents everyone. Then I put my thoughts, my feelings that I want to tell to the public in this painting. This is not about the tiger's identity but encouragement because people can't grow stronger without any support. So I just want to express this inspiring encouragement," he said.

Paper crafts by Napat Kangwannarakul. (Photo: River City Bangkok)

Award-winning painter Daeng Buasan drew the tiger's heart outside its body, as he wondered if the tiger didn't have a heart, what it would be? After attempting to find many different definitions of tiger, Daeng compared it to human characteristics and further explained that the tiger "can mean a womaniser if people are flirty. And it can be a cruel thief. But if we pull the heart out of the tiger, will the tiger still be the tiger?".

Apparently, the artist let the audience find their own answers to his question.

Similarly, Naidee Changmoh, a sculptor and painter, created his metal artwork that clarified the meaning of the tiger's heart. Inspired by ancient paintings, he applied the naive style that contains informality, simplicity and frankness to his metal welded sculpture titled Tiger's Heart.

Rebirth by Sita Inyai. 

Roar by Sirirat Chumyen. 

"I am not familiar with metal welding at all. This is new to me. But I started learning this last year and it was fun. And I think if we use another material like metal in this work, it will express a different feeling. So this material helps the tiger look arrogant, aggressive and strong," Naidee said.

Visit rivercitybangkok.com or email chaiswittaya@gmail.com for more information.

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