After years on the move, established artist Somboon Homtientong has found his Shangri-la in pastoral northern Thailand. Not that living in a rural idyll has slowed him down one iota, as he explains to PAWIKA JANSAMAKAO.
When did you realise you wanted to be an artist?
When I met Chang Saetang, one of Thailand’s foremost poets and painters, I’ve learnt many things from him. He was my first inspiration and he encouraged me to become an artist.
Your formative years were spent in Thailand but you then lived and studied in Germany for 24 years. How did you develop as an artist during your time there?
I had a hard time when I first moved to Germany because I didn’t know the language and I had to live on a very meagre budget. However, after I graduated I managed to showcase some of my art and eventually gained some public attention – and income! I married while I was there and lived in a kind of artistic commune in Munich where I learned how to be disciplined and organized artistically. One day though I realized that I wanted a new experience. My fellow artists weren’t happy with my decision to leave and asked me to stay. As a compromise I ended up travelling back and forth between Germany and Thailand for a while, until I discovered Chiang Kan and settled down.
Why did you choose to settle in rural Chiang Khan?
It is such a peaceful town. It lends itself to work. I love the beautiful environment along the Mekong River, and the quality of light you get up here is superb. It is also about as far away as you can be from hectic urban centers like Munich and Bangkok. Being here gives me the freedom to take long motorcycle trips into the countryside, during which I can stop and sketch or paint at leisure when a scene grabs me.
Who or what has influenced your style the most?
Apart from Chang Saetang in the early years, I have been most influenced by Buddhism. Many of the artists I lived with in Munich had aggressive, sometimes violent styles of painting. I went the other way and adapted religion to my abstract art, giving it a softer feel. Although not a direct influence, I’ve come to love the work of the polymath German artist Joseph Beuys. He is celebrated today as one of the most important and revolutionary artistic figures of the late 20th century.
Have you worked in artistic mediums other than paint?
Certainly. My work covers sculpture, installation art, drawing and painting. What links the pieces are abstract concepts. I don’t set myself any parameters or limits… I hope to keep on moving forward, producing work in all forms for years to come.
On The Way
Until January 31
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