The hidden corners of the mind

The hidden corners of the mind

Artist Fahfahs explores the duality of human nature through characters who exhibit cheerfulness and darkness

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The hidden corners of the mind
Napath Kuntaruck, known as Fahfahs.

Napath Kuntaruck, known as Fahfahs, is an illustrator skilled in creating characters. Her fans particularly adore her cute female characters depicted in pink. Last year, Napath participated in a group exhibition titled "When Snowflakes Fall" at River City Bangkok. She created a tale of several snowy fairies, including a black fairy named Midnight who embodied sorrow and darkness. Unlike other bright and cheerful characters, Midnight became popular among viewers and this inspired Napath to create an exhibition where Midnight plays a major role.

In a previous exhibition, Midnight was portrayed as a fairy who looked different from other cheerful fairies. In one painting, Midnight sees her own reflection on a glacier and realises that she has a good side.

"This symbolises the idea that people have both a good and a bad side," Napath said.

"I rarely draw dark characters, so I was surprised by the positive feedback for Midnight because my top-selling merchandise is in pink. I noticed many fans mentioned Midnight on Instagram Stories and expressed genuine liking for the character and how they could relate. Therefore, I intend to further develop Midnight's character."

Midnight.

In Napath's debut solo exhibition, "Basement In Your Soul", the concept, which was inspired by Midnight, was a basement being a symbol of a hidden place in people's minds.

"People may see me as a cheerful person as symbolised by pastel or pink, but I want to express that I have other sides that I have never revealed to the public. In 'Basement In Your Soul', Midnight is not a fairy as she represents darkness. There are two other characters also, named Sunshine and Rainbow. While Sunshine represents light, Rainbow, who appears in pink, represents my cheerful side," Napath explained.

"Basement In Your Soul" welcomes viewers with a 120cm-tall sculpture named Twinkle next to the door. In this pink room, the artist aims to convey to viewers that she has complicated feelings with several sides hidden inside her.

"Walking through the exhibition is similar to stepping into a basement. Next to the pink room, a two-minute animation depicts a story where Rainbow is dominated by Midnight, or darkness. Another white room presents the story of a bright character, Sunshine, who makes everyone happy. However, she sometimes feels like breaking into pieces. The dark room and Midnight represent my pain and suffering. The final room is where I find the inner light," explained Napath.

Harmony.

Napath earned a bachelor's in architecture from Silpakorn University where her friends encouraged her to post on social platforms. In 2011, there was severe flooding in Bangkok which closed the university. She spent her time drawing and posting her work on social media (facebook.com/fahfahsnpth and instagram.com/fahfahfahs) every day which helped her gain more followers and opportunities to create a illustration book. However, she found that illustration books were not for her, so she decided to create her own products.

The young illustrator began by creating postcards, selling them for 10 to 15 baht each. She saved her income and invested it in stickers and a machine to screen-print phone cases. In addition to her illustrations on social media, Line stickers are another product that helped her gain more recognition.

Napath had a marketing vision. She established fahfahsworld.com which features merchandise created by various artists. The artist mentioned that the website was initially created to categorise her products.

Midnight represents pain and suffering. River City Bangkok (RCB)

"Before fahfahsworld.com, my products were sold through social media. Customers were confused because the products were not in one place. I decided to create the website as a shopping platform so customers can shop easily on their own. However, if the website featured only my products, it would not attract many visitors. Thus, I asked my illustrator friends to join. After that, when other artists noticed that the website was a great platform to sell merchandise, they reached out to me to join," she said.

As a young artist, Napath enjoys experimenting with various art forms. In "Basement In Your Soul", she created oil paintings for the first time.

"I took four classes to understand oil painting equipment. After that, I practised on my own. In a previous exhibition, 'When Snowflakes Fall', I used acrylic paint and found it dull and stiff. In contrast to acrylics, watercolours offer softer lines which I prefer. When I tried oil painting, I discovered that it offered a soft texture and tone," she said.

Soul's Battle.

In addition to painting, the artist also created an animation and three sculptures each 30cm tall. This allowed her to learn new techniques. Since she always draws illustrations in a flat form, she had never created characters in three-dimensional form. When creating the sculptures, she had to rely on her imagination to visualise how each character would look in three dimensions and worked with a 3D model artist for several months before the final sculptures were produced.

The artist hopes viewers will relate to her work at "Basement In Your Soul".

"My previous characters weren't created with any complex meaning, but the characters and paintings in this exhibition are based on more mature ideas and imbue deeper emotions and themes. Some viewers have their own interpretation of a painting and commented that it was meaningful for them.

"One of many viewers' favourite paintings is titled Harmony, which depicts three characters, Sunshine, Rainbow and Midnight, holding hands and walking towards a light. The painting's caption is 'Shine your own light. Follow your own path'. From this painting, I would like to encourage everyone to find their own unique path without comparing themselves to others. Everyone has their own light. After this exhibition, I will start working on the next exhibition, but it will take around one or two years because I want to take time to find inspiration," concluded Napath.

"Basement In Your Soul" runs at RCB Galleria 4, 2nd floor, River City Bangkok, until March 3. Admission is free. For more information, visit facebook.com/RiverCityBangkok.

The Twinkle room. River City Bangkok

A white room presents the story of Sunshine.

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