March 12, 2012
We don’t immediately associate Thailand with talented and sophisticated watercolour artists but that’s a very Euro-centric point of view. Many Asian countries have histories of artistic accomplishment which predate other areas and this is reflected in many artistic mediums. We’ve picked just three contemporary Thai watercolour artists to demonstrate the type of work that is currently underway.
Probably the best known outside Thailand is Soraya Runckel. An impressive career spanning many years has enabled her to exhibit all over the world including London, the United States and China. Born in Bangkok to well connected Thai parents, she showed an interest and aptitude for art from an early age, subsequently spending more than a decade studying Chinese brush painting in conjunction with watercolour techniques.
Soraya is the wife of a diplomat and her travels abroad tend to influence her work. In particular her spells in the United States and Beijing are regarded as particularly important.
A man with a dream and the talent to match is Nikom U-aksorn. Originally an electrical engineer, Nikom rose to become a senior executive at the Thai Oil Refinery while maintaining the dream to become a full time painter. Eventually the opportunity arose to take advantage of early retirement and Nikom could pursue his passion full time.
Ranking alongside Soraya Runkel in terms of exhibiting abroad is Pornchai Lerttamasiri. Pornchai was born and resides in Ayutthaya, the ancient city to the north of Bangkok which is filled with ancient ruins and other superb examples of Siamese architecture. It’s not hard to imagine how an artist could be inspired by such incredible scenery.
Although a specialist in watercolour, Pornchai also uses other mediums and has been exhibiting internationally for at least the last decade, particularly in the United States. One of Pornchai’s most interesting exhibitions was a display of paintgins using coffee as the medium in Oregon, U.S.
Categories: Asian Artists.
March 16, 2011
Abstract watercolor paintings have become a mainstream genre of art and a lot of the credit for this has to go to the Russian artist, Wassily Kandisky who accidentally discovered abstract art one day in his studio when he realised that shapes and colours were descriptive on their own and there was no need for definition.
Kandisky was born in Moscow in 1866 but spent most of his childhood in Odessa. Music played an important part in his early life (both his parents played instruments and he also learnt how to play the piano and cello) and this would become an inspiration for some of his later watercolor work, as is apparent from the names of the paintings such as Improvisations, Impressions and Compositions.
In 1886, he enrolled at the University of Moscow where he studied law and economics and he went onto become a successful lecturer at the Moscow Faculty of Law.
In fact he did not start painting until the age of 30 after he had attended an exhibition of French impressionists and was particularly disappointed by Monet’s ‘Haystacks at Giverny’ which he was unable to recognise as a haystack and thought that “the painter had no right to paint in such an imprecise fashion”. He therefore left Moscow in 1896 and went to study art in Munich, first in the private school of Anton Azbe and then later at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich.
It was not long before Kandisky’s talent surpassed the constraints of art school and he soon began to explore his own ideas of painting. Now with the title of ‘founder of abstract art’, his work was exhibited throughout Europe in the early twentieth century but not without controversy among the public, his contemporaries and art critics.
Kandisky was an active participant in several of the most influential and controversial art movements of the 20th century, including the Blue Rider which he founded along with Franz Marc and the Bauhaus. His reputation also became firmly established in the United States and as soon as his work was introduced to Solomon Guggenheim, he became one of Kandisky’s most enthusiastic supporters.
In 1933, Kandisky left Germany and moved to France where he became a French citizen in 1939 and lived the rest of his life until his death in 1944.
Categories: Asian Artists, Russian Artists.
December 25, 2010
When we think of Russian art, we normally think first of the great oil paintings from the last few hundred years. A stroll through The Hermitage in St. Petersburg will show any visitor that oil on canvas is the dominant medium. However Russia also has a rich history of watercolour painting and one such artist is the contemporary Sergei – or Sergey – Andriyaka.
Andriyaka was born in Moscow in 1958. He has worked in various different media, including pottery and and prints, but he is most renowned for his watercolour work. Growing up in the communist era did not affect some aspects of Soviet life and Andriyaka studied art as a student first at the Moscow Surikov Art School and then, following graduation from this facility, at the Moscow State Surikov Art Institute.
He held his first private exhibition in 1985 and to date has exhibited more than 200 times around the world. Following graduation, he stayed on to teach painting techniques at the Institute before becoming a senior teacher there in 1985.
The title People’s Painter of Russia, or National Artist of Russia is an honour awarded to Russian citizens distinguished in the field of art. Andriyaka was awarded this title in 2005. His work is currently exhibited in galleries in numerous countries around the world. In 1999 Andriyaka, supported by the city of Moscow, founded the Sergei Andriyaka Watercolour School which currently teaches this medium to around 700 students.
He became noted for developing individual techniques to surmount problems that arose when painting and some of his best work centres around Russia’s smaller towns and Russian nature. Still only 53 years old, in 2001 he became Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Arts and in 2007 became a full member of the same organisation.
Two of Andriyaka’s most notable works.
Categories: Asian Artists, European Artists.
December 9, 2010
Xu Beihong, also known variously as P’eon Hsu and Hsu Pei-Hung was born in Jitingqiao
in the Jiangsu Province of China on the 19th July 1895. He is regarded as one of the foremost artists of various different artistic media, including ink (calligraphy) and oil painting. We are primarily interested though in his ability to paint stunning watercolours.
Watercolour painting began to influence Chinese art in the mid-19th century although it had been introduced there more than 100 years before that. Xu Beihong was initiated into the world of art by his father at the age of six. After working in Shanghai for several years he left to study in Tokyo in 1917 and followed this trip with another to France and Western Europe, learning and studying new techniques before returning to China in 1927. In 1940 Xu had the opportunity to paint some stunning Himalayan scenery when he exhibited in Calcutta and met famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Ghandi.
He blended Western watercolour techniques with Chinese Ink and Calligraphy techniques to create something unique, especially when painting wildlife. Watercolour painting lends itself well to botany and wildlife because of the details possible when using the medium. Xu became an important force in the direction art took in communist China after his release in 1948 of his book “Chinese Art: It’s Past and Future”, and his influence still presides over modern Chinese art. By the time of his death on September 26th 1953 he had become globally renowned and The Xu Beihong Museum in Beijing still honours his memory. Here you can see all his displayed work not just watercolours but oil on canvas and calligraphy among others. In his later years he became President of the Art College of Beiping, President of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and was elected Second Congress of the All-China Federation of Writer and Artists.
Categories: Asian Artists.