Thawan Praman (sometimes written Thawul) was born in February 1965 is rightly recognised as Thailand’s primary Buddha artist. Living in Chiang Mai, he studied Fine Arts at Silpakorn University in Bangkok, graduating in 1988. Among his many credits, awards and exhibitions, Thawan was commissioned to paint the backdrops of the movie “Mortal Kombat” and also to paint the Ballroom at The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, a particular honour bearing in mind the esteem with which that institution is held, his work also decorates the lobbies and public areas of many others.
Traditional Thai art prides detail above all things, leaving the viewer to admire it as one would fine stitching or other art of enormous complexity. Thawan’s technique is unique, sure and skilled, achieving his signature rock-grain effect sometimes infused with light, but avoiding extreme detail work preferring to contrast texture with flat, unexpected colour. Within this delicate balance he employs realism to influence his artistic technique so that subjects, often aspects of Buddhist philosophy, are conscientiously interpreted in his work and are elevated to an outstanding level of difficulty, surpassing mere paint and small brush strokes.
He has the rather dubious honour of having his style, technique, rock-grain effects and subject matter copied by many younger artists throughout Asia, but is known as the originator of this style of work. Concentrating on depicting the Buddha, and more recently the Wats (temples) of Thailand with their dappled colours, Thawan captures the serene beauty and peaceful qualities of Thai Buddha images, by moving away from purely photographic representation into the realm of hightened awareness by the use of colour. Some of his images are strong, secure yet others are quite whimsical… but they are all incredibly beautiful.
When you meet Thawan, he is as calm and gentle, as measured and studious as his paintings. I think they are extraordinary, as is the man himself.