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Vietnamese lacquer art inspires Thai diplomat

Update: May, 19/2013 - 03:14
Many talents: Panpimon Suwannapongse with one of her unfinished lacquer paintings in her office.

Despite leading a hectic life as Thailand's Consul General in HCM City, Panpimon Suwannapongse makes sure she finds time to pursue her passion of Vietnamese lacquer art. Van Dat reports.

Panpimon Suwannapongse has loved painting since she was just seven years old and this childhood love later developed into a passion for oil on canvas works.

However, after meeting some Vietnamese artists in Ha Noi, she turned to making lacquer paintings and has acquired considerable skills in the art, I discovered after being invited to see some of her works at her residence last month.

Panpimon said that her turning to a political career had not dimmed her passion for painting, but it acquired greater intensity after she arrived in Viet Nam in 2004 as Minister Counseller at the Royal Thai Embassy in Ha Noi.

Despite being very busy as a diplomat in Viet Nam she could not give up her hobby, Panpimon said, adding that it has actually helped her overcome work-related stress.

Before coming to Viet Nam, she had never considered lacquer paintings before, but following the suggestion of a few Vietnamese friends, she tried her hand at the new media and it turned out to be a good thing.

In 2006, two years after she arrived, she began learning lacquer painting from Vietnamese artist Nguyen Quoc Cuong. Her diligence and interest, saw her pick up a lot of knowledge and skills about the art in just one year.

Later, she began to practice and compose paintings by herself. Despite her hectic work schedule, the amateur artist managed to add a new artwork to her collection every three months or so.

Her works depict her love for her father, the Thai King, her homeland and Viet Nam, the place she stays and works.

"The colours are bright and warm, because in my opinion, the paintings that are hung in the house should present happiness and peace to owners and every one who sees them," she said, explaining the use of a lot of gold and bright colours in most of her paintings.


Chance to shine: One of Thai diplomat Panpimpon Suwannapongse's recent lacquer paintings.

Home and gallery

Her own talent is hidden until one is invited to her house, which looks more like a gallery.

After moving to HCM City last year in her new position as the Consul General of Thailand, she has befriended several artists in the city, including Ma Thanh Cao, the director of the HCM City Fine Arts Museum, and Nguyen Xuan Viet, an artist who specialises in lacquer paintings.

Viet said it was rare to see a foreigner who learns Vietnamese lacquer painting and makes beautiful paintings herself.

Roughly seven years since she started her affair with lacquer, she has a total of 22 paintings that have been shown during three exhibitions in Viet Nam and Thailand. She plans to organise her fourth exhibition in HCM City in July this year.

Khun Oon, as she is known to her staff, has been working full time as a diplomat for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand since 1980.

She was born in 1963 and rasied in Nakhon Ratchasima, often known as Korat, the largest province in the northeastern region of Thailand.

Although she later moved to Bangkok for higher education, her enduring love for her hometown is reflected in most of her artwork, especially through the use of blue and gold colours.

Some of her paintings also reflect certain critical times in her life that have helped shape who she is today. — VNS

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