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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Anupong Chantorn - อนุพงษ์ จันทร

Anupong Chantorn - อนุพงษ์ จันทร

My job was over when I put down the paintbrush, the rest is about the artwork and its viewers.' (Anupong Chantorn)

Anupong Chantorn is considered one of the most controversial artists in Thailand. His paintings and drawings examine Buddhist beliefs in Thai society while unearthing, what he believes are, misconceptions of Buddhist traditions and principles of honesty. Chantorn's work questions the ethics of Buddhist beliefs that result from the good deeds and wrong doings of all human beings.

In 2007, public outrage broke out when Chantorn's 'Bhikku Sandarn Kar', a painting of monks with crows' beaks, was awarded the gold prize at the National Artist Awards. While there is a long tradition of pictorial representations of Buddha throughout Southeast Asia, representations of monks in visual art are relatively new. The artist raises questions about ideas concerning what defines a monk as good, deserving of respect or as an evil spirit resulting from bad karma. Monks with less than perfect behavior regularly make headline news in Thailand. Reports of them involved in vices like gambling, drinking, smoking and even rape, have begun to damage their pristine reputations. Monks have also made the news for their controversial selling of amulets. Thais believe that wearing such amulets protect them from evil and bring good luck. The monks are expected to bless them, not sell them. As a consequence of recent news more Thai artists have begun to address the role of Buddhist monks in their work.

Visually the paintings by Chantorn are influenced by murals in temples in Ayuttaya, in the north of Bangkok. Based on parts of the ''Tipitaka,'' the earliest collection of Buddhist writings in which Buddha describes the characteristic of sham monks, he is not depicting the monks as demons but demons disguising themselves as monks. The artist wants to make people aware that criminals are exploiting ‘religion’ in order to hide the evil under the pretext of the robe: 'Ultimately, it's the good intent that keeps me focused. If I had created the painting with bad intentions, I would have been shaken by now. My artwork doesn't necessarily dictate to others to think the same way I do, but at least it does its job by prompting viewers to react and respond to it. This is what art should be about.'*

* Artist Anupong Chantorn explains why his controversial artwork should be considered descriptive rather than offensive, STORY BY SAMILA SUTTISILTUM,

place & year of birth
Thailand, 1980

featured galleries

M.F.A (Thai Art), Graduate School, Silpakorn University, Bangkok

B.F.A. (2nd class honor, Thai Art), Faculty of Painting Sculpture and Graphic Arts, Silpakorn University, Bangkok


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