Viet Nam News
By Minh Thu
Organising his first exhibition in Việt Nam in October, Somsak Chaituch from the Netherlands chose to debut his painting October to mark the event.
“With a special love for Việt Nam, I present this painting dedicated to autumn on the occasion,” he said.
The painting is being shown for the first time worldwide. It is a majestic 7m-wide painting about autumn when the colour of the leaves changes to red, brown and gold.
“The nights turn cold so they feel blue, at the same time we see faces hidden in the painting that enjoy the spectacular colour explosion of nature before the winter comes,” he said.
“October is painted in a typical Thai colour scheme. Overall the painting gives the feeling of joy and happiness.”
Chaituch is a Dutch-Thai artist. He has received many international art awards and exhibited in Italy, the Netherlands, the US, Brazil, the UK, France, China and South Korea.
He joined his Vietnamese friend, painter Hoàng Định, for an exhibition called Dancing Colours of Nature, held at the Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum from October 28 to November 6. Art critic Phạm Long called Chaituch an artist of lines. Every line is defined perfectly in colour, shape and position on the canvas.
He has offered Hanoians a chance to admire the multi-coloured contemporary paintings inspired by traditional Thai weaving in combination with abstract art from Northern Europe.
“Most art works by Chaituch are large, comprising rich details, strong, bright colours and a lot of twisting shapes, that give the viewers a spectacular feeling with a story in each painting,” he said.
“Each painting has many layers that blend from a distance but give more details when we look closer. This is done in composition, colour and tactile structure of brush work.”
“The overall composition is sometimes inspired by classical Thai patterns used, for example, in wood carvings or in clothes like the sarongs of my mother,” he said.
The paintings are all about movement and nature. Chaituch paints his impressions, experiences and emotions.
Inspired: Somsak Chaituch enjoys his trip to Hạ Long Bay.
Art and music
Chaituch is well-known for his series Music For the Eyes in which he uses art to portray music. The swirling strokes of bright lines dance on the canvas. They are inspired by classical piano music.
“Paintings are strongly connected to music,” he said.
“The matrix of continuous wavy patterns, swirling together is really organic and rhythmic.”
“I like to listen to opera and jazz or classical Thai songs when I paint. As a teenager I learned to play the flute and sing.”
At 13 years old, he worked as a classical singer in a restaurant in Northern Thailand to earn money for school and food for his family.
“Music is not only about rhythm, but the most important thing is that good music expresses emotion,” said Chaituch.
“The same applies for a painting. At the academy, we learned to make art inspired by opera music which has a lot of drama.”
His works reflect his own development, raised in Thailand but studying art in the Netherlands.
“After more than 20 years studying and living in Western Europe, my way of thinking, feeling and my taste for beauty has become a mixture between East and West,” he said.
“My art education has been in the West. The cultural background of the East has blended with the composition style of the West. The result is reflected in my paintings – between East and West.”
New work: October, a painting making its debut in Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of the artist
Link with Việt Nam
Chaituch and Định met each other at international competitions and art events. When Chaituch worked as a curator for the Yu Kyung Art Museum in South Korea, he selected Định’s works for an exhibition.
They exchanged ideas and new works via Facebook. They found a connection in their opinions on art.
“We have similarities in our art, like the theme of nature and movement, but we also differ in colour schemes,” said Chaituch.
“Định and his family are very kind and took very good care of me. I felt at home and hope they come to visit our home in the Netherlands.”
Chaituch also appreciated Định as a great artist who has developed his very own recognisable style.
The Dutch artist enjoyed Hà Nội as well as some other destinations in Việt Nam, like Hạ Long Bay and the Tràng An Complex.
“The nature here is stunning and people are very nice and friendly,” he said.
“In Hà Nội, I like to walk around town and enjoy the street food like noodle soup and fresh fruits. At first, I was afraid of the motorcycles and didn’t dare to cross the street. But now I trust the people and walk easily.”
For him, the best thing about Việt Nam is the kindness of the people, helping him in his work. However, one of his favourite places, the Việt Nam Fine Arts Museum, needs improvement, he said.
“It is an important cultural heritage of Việt Nam, I hope that its facilities are upgraded to receive more international visitors.”
The country and people offered inspiration for Chaituch, so he could start work on a large painting based on the mountains around Tràng An.
“I really enjoyed the boat tour to Tràng An Complex, it was very impressive with high rocks creating an other-worldly atmosphere of mystery and security at the same time.”
He also plans to organise more exhibitions in Việt Nam. — VNS