Duchanee, Thawan (1939–2014) By Mukdamanee, Vichaya
Thawan Duchanee, awarded National Artist in 2001 by the Office of the National Culture Commission of Thailand, is one of the best-known artists in Thailand, both for people in the art scene and the general public. He first gained recognition in 1967 with the exhibition of his early series of paintings, in which he represented spiritualized power by drawing on a variety of forms of idealized Thai beliefs and images from his own imagination. His work is beautiful and complex but is easily understood by international audiences. Tawan’s most famous artworks often consist of human and animal forms, which are inspired by Buddhism, Eastern philosophy, and Thai literature. With his excellent knowledge of anatomy, Tawan has designed various beautiful figures that are full of imagination and emotion. Some are depicted with strong muscles engaged in a variety of aggressive actions, while some are created to represent feelings of calm and peacefulness. Violent expression is often mixed with graceful and complicated patterns created in the volumes of light and shadow. Most of Tawan’s enormous artworks use black and white tones with perhaps only a few colors. The movements of characters cover the entire canvas. Some his artworks are quickly and skillfully painted, mimicking the brushwork of Chinese painting, while some are elegantly created by the small lines of ballpoint pens.