Intricacy – Thai Art by NUS Students

The Department of Southeast Asian Studies is proud to present ‘Intricacy‘, a Thai Art exhibition by students of module SE3224 Thai Drawing and Painting.

The exhibition will be held at the NUS Central Library from 9 to 14 September 2015. It is located outside the library restricted area and is open to all.

For directions to NUS Central Library, please go to NUS Campus map:

Intricacy Thai Art Exhibition 9-14 Sept 2015

Wijit: Thai Art by Leong Chao Yang (Year 2 student, Southeast Asian Studies major)

Read about Chao Yang’s experience in learning about Thai Art through our module SE3224 and putting up an art exhibition showcasing artworks by some students from the AY2012/2013 class of SE3224.

As a painter, I have always regarded the artist’s canvas as an avenue for subtle creative expression. In the didactic world of traditional Thai art, however, I found that it was not so much about the artist’s individual achievements or artistic originality. Rather, the paintings serve as powerful visual illustrations for monks to propagate the teachings of Buddha to devotees.. I learnt about this during a one-week field trip to Bangkok along with my classmates as part of the “SE3224: Thai Drawing and Painting” course last semester.

The module, which was taught by Dr Irving Johnson from the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, brought me face-to-face with some of the most exquisite works of Thai art in Buddhist temples across Central Thailand, from Buddhaisawan Chapel to Wat Khongkharam. The highly subsidised field trip was a memorable experience where we had a chance to take a well-deserved break in the middle of a hectic semester and take drawing classes at the Pok Chang College of Fine Arts.

Enrolled in possibly the first Thai art class outside its country of origin, I found myself drawing and spilling ink over hundreds of elaborate patterns every week. This ultimately resulted in my final project, a portrait of Phra Wessuwan, a guardian god in the Thai Buddhist cosmology. I still remember having fun shopping for art materials and painting with my classmates.

Under Dr Johnson’s guidance, we put up Wijit: Thai Art by NUS Students, an exhibition which showcased some of these final-year projects at the NUS Central Library from 7 to 16 August 2012. Planning the exhibition was a great learning experience, given the unconventional gallery space and limited time and resources. In spite of the challenges, the exhibition went well and we were all smiles after the setup as we viewed our glistering gold-leafed works standing proudly on their easels.

Students from the SE3224 course on a field trip to Buddhaisawan Chapel, Bangkok, in February 2012.

My final art project Phra Wessuwan displayed at the exhibition.

The exhibition, Wijit: Thai Art by NUS Students, was held from 7 to 16 August at NUS Central Library.

Wijit: Thai Art by NUS Students

This is the first time a traditional Thai art class (painting/drawing/composition/history) is being taught outside Thailand. For one week during the semester recess in 2011 and 2012, students enrolled in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies class SE3224: Thai Drawing and Painting spent hours copying and experiencing traditional Thai art in Bangkok’s finest temples. As part of their immersion into the little known world of Thai art, all students were tasked to produce an art piece as part of their final assignment for the class. The pieces displayed in this exhibition represent some of these projects. The works range from intricate gold and black lacquered-style creations to complex scenes from Buddhist literature and the Hindu epics.

Official opening by Ms Phasporn Sangasubana, Charge d’Affaires a.i., and Ms Ponpat Thitthongkham, Second Secretary of the Royal Thai Embassy, Singapore at 10am, Tuesday 7th August 2012. All are welcome.