Nandakwang, Tawee (1925–1991) By Galloway, Charlotte
Tawee Nandakwang was one of the pioneers of modern art in Thailand. Born in the northern city of Lamphun, he trained at Silpakorn University and also completed a diploma in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome in 1961. Nandakwang established his reputation as a leading artist early in his career, winning numerous prizes in the 1950s. Work from this period was heavily influenced by Impressionism and Cubism, drawing on familiar subjects such as portraits, landscape scenes and still lifes. He eventually settled into his own distinct style, which demonstrated a close interest in technique: each mark on the canvas was carefully considered. He had an affinity with the natural world and strove to create an aesthetic that did not mimic reality, but conveyed an emotional response to the scene. For example, flowers were not simply painted for their beauty; they became vehicles for conveying the changing atmospheric qualities of light and weather through the day. Buddhism was also an influence. There is a reflective quality in his paintings, in which feeling and impression override any direct rendering of the subject. Nandakwang was recognized for his innovation and skill, receiving several awards, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Visual Arts (painting) Award in 1990. His works are represented in Thai and international collections.