A sibling bond
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A sibling bond

Chittakarn Suvanabhat transforms her autistic brother's travel dreams into vibrant artwork

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
A sibling bond
Sibling artists Tanat, left, and Chittakarn Suvanabhat.

Tanat Suvanabhat, better known as Naipran, is an artist with autism. During Covid, he wanted to travel abroad but couldn't so he expressed his desire through paintings and drawings. He drew planes, airports and landscapes of cities he wanted to visit, especially London and New York.

 

His sister Chittakarn Suvanabhat, better known as Yaipoeng, also an artist, was impressed with Tanat's drawings. She took inspiration from Tanat's works and created multicoloured aeroplane sculptures which are now part of the art exhibition "Take Flight To The Beyond".

"Instead of using words, Tanat drew planes to showcase his desire to travel abroad. Since he enjoys air travel, especially via Thai Airways, he included the company's logo in his drawings. His determination inspired me, so I expanded his drawings into aeroplane sculptures to show that I did not ignore his ideas, but actually valued them," said Chittakarn.

"Take Flight To The Beyond" is an extensive exhibition on display on the 1st and 2nd floor of ATT19. The exhibition displays art created by the two siblings in various forms such as drawings, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, papier-mâché and installations.

On one table, there are even photos of Chittakarn and Tanat when they were children.

"This presentation narrates the close bond of a sister and brother growing up together. They take care of each other and have been through hard times together," said Chittakarn.

On the 2nd floor, in two rooms, Animals In Town and Circle Of Thought are the highlights.

Animals In Town.

Circle Of Thought takes visitors to the artists' childhood memories. Inspired by Tanat's drawings, the room is full of small sculptures making them look like toys. Located on a white platform, the small sculptures include New York's Statue of Liberty, Big Ben in London, a double-decker bus, a red British post box, small planes, animals and flowers. In the middle of the platform, a toy horse runs on a toy train track. Many visitors, especially children, enjoy spending a long time in this room watching the toy horse run in and out of a black-white tunnel adorned by Tanat's drawing.

"Circle Of Thought refers to Tanat's thoughts expressed through his drawings. I gathered things he mentioned such as the Statue of Liberty in New York and Big Ben in London and created sculptures of them to represent the exhibition's inspirations. The papier-mâché toy horse takes us back to our childhood days," explained Chittakarn.

"At Circle Of Thought, a piece featuring clouds and rain is special because it was inspired by a character who enjoys playing in the rain and watering plants. During the rainy season, all his paintings include clouds and rain. He doesn't draw clouds and rain during summer," Chittakarn said.

Animals In Town is a white room filled with white sculptures in animal form such as a tiger, a lion, a horse and a bird. A white sculpture of Tanat holding a watering pot is located in the middle of the room. Chittakarn used white to signify the purity of her brother. She also uses three light colours, red, blue and green, to create different vibes. An intriguing flower in the room was created by Tanat according to Chittakarn's request.

"At the beginning of our art journey, Tanat enjoyed drawing animals. Since Tanat preferred to stay in the city rather than in rural areas, Animals In Town displays animal sculptures with a city background. His purity is represented by white colour and the three coloured lights (red, blue and green) are used like paints," she said.

A showcase on the 1st floor represents sibling bonds.

Abstract art by Tanat which inspired Chittakarn.

"Every sculpture is inspired by Tanat's drawings. I asked him to draw me a flower and he created one which differed from others. His drawings are special, so I created sculptures based on his drawings," explained Chittakarn.

On the 1st floor are many colourful sculptures including a horse with a sister and a brother on its back, huge flowers and aeroplanes. This showcase represents a sibling bond and a sister who observed Tanat's desire and expressed it through art.

"Take Flight To The Beyond" is a large-scale exhibition which gathers works from both artists' early years to their latest work. On a wall hangs Tanat's first still life painting in which he drew objects in a house such as a plate, a fork, spoon and kettle.

"These paintings were created a decade ago. Since Tanat and I are closer in age than other family members, at that time he was very clingy to me. I decided to bring him to work on art with me. I was a student at the Faculty of Painting Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn University, so I took his paintings to show my instructor and he said that Tanat's work was special and unique," said Chittakarn.

After discovering Tanat's talents, Chittakarn collaborated with her brother to create several kinds of artwork. She experimented with many ways to collaborate until she discovered a way to complement and harmonise their skills.

"In the beginning, we created separate pieces, so viewers could recognise our work individually. Then, I tried to unite our work. I used to paint realistically, but it didn't match his skills, so I had to tone down my skills to create a balance in our abilities."

Working with an autistic artist is challenging, but as a sister, Chittakarn is full of love, understanding and patience for her brother.

Tanat's first still life paintings.

Circle Of Thought.

"I have to repeat and emphasise the same message several times, but I am fine with it. I understand that as an autistic person, he has his specific routine; I respect his schedule. I have to match my schedule with his. As a duo, I respect and trust his decision. If we have different opinions, I discuss with him and try to find a way to compromise," said Chittakarn.

Chittakarn established the platform Yaipoeng Naipran Art Therapy Studio on social media and launched products apart from artwork, such as T-shirts, clothes and furniture. They also donated proceeds from selling T-shirts to the Siriraj Foundation to help low-income families with autistic children.

Chittakarn hopes the exhibition will encourage other families to take care of autistic family members.

"If any family has an autistic child or member, I hope that family will spend a lot of time with them. Please don't neglect them, and I hope that the family will be a warm and safe space for them."


"Take Flight To The Beyond" runs at ATT19, Charoen Krung 30, until June 16. Admission is free. For more information, visit facebook.com/yaipoengnaipran.art.therapy.studio.

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