Artists’ Front of Thailand, The By Chapakdee, Thanom
The Artists’ Front of Thailand (AFT) formed in 1974, immediately following the violent political events of October 1973. The group came together for the purpose of mapping contemporary art and its manifestations, and to shed light on the cultural value of the term ‘Art for Life, Art for People’ (Silapa phua Chiwit, Silapa phua Prachachon). In the 1970s, many cultural and artists groups rose up to take part in the democratic sphere, and this quickly evolved into a form of Socialist Realism which was integrated with Marxist and Maoist ideology. At that time, the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) movement was expanding in both urban and rural areas in Thailand. Faced with new freedoms and sharing a hunger for change, the Artists’ Front of Thailand successfully created art to fit this purpose, dealing with subjects such as poverty, nationalism, racism, anti-capitalism, and imperialism, while exhibiting a cynical attitude towards modernity. This was balanced by the figurative nature of their works, a style long ignored during the heyday of abstract art. While the Artists’ Front of Thailand movement lasted only two years, it left a significant legacy of ‘Art for Life’ and its aesthetics.