This past summer we traveled to Chiang Mai to meet with the artists of Northern Thailand. (Where we’ll be launching a new tour shortly! For those interested in our Thailand tours, Please come learn more about our tours in Thailand with Radical Grandmas and Bangkok’s Modern Artists
For Travelers interested in culture, visiting both Chiang Mai and Bangkok’s Art Scene are a must to understand the debates going on within Thai culture. To better understand Chiang Mai, we interviewed Torlarp Larpjaroensook who is one of our favorite artists in Thailand. Torlarp uses scrap or found material and his imagination, to create utopian possibilities the audience can explore.
Our interview with Torlarp (though a friend who helped us interpret) is below!
AAT: What is Torlarp’s Background
Torlarp was living in a boat house in Ayutthaya. He graduated from fine art college in Bangkok when he was in high school. Torlarp continued his bachelor degree at the faculty of fine art in Chiang Mai University. His father was a carpenter, which was how he got the idea of making things from scratch and creating his own toys.
AAT: How did Torlarp decide to become an artist
Torlarp enjoyed doing art since he was a kid, and that is why he continued to study in the art field. He thought that art always brings him joy. Even at a young age he did not realize this is called “Art”. But he can make a living from it since graduating from university.
He started doing painting, product design and interior design. These led his way to become a full time artist by collecting new experience overtime when he creates a new project. His art works are mostly mixed and new techniques. It was through these new experiences in painting and designing, and the excitement that came of these, that determined Torlarp in becoming a dedicated artist.
AAT: Why does Torlarp choose Chiang Mai / Northern Thailand as the base for his gallery and for his studio? How does it inspire him?
Torlarp graduated from Chiang Mai University and has continued to stay in the area. He was working in Bangkok for a while, but felt the environment in Bangkok was not suitable for him. Chiang Mai has more opportunity to grow. There are many contemporary artists that live in Chiang Mai as well as art professors that he has the opportunity to meet with and discuss about art. These individuals are inspirational to his art projects. The city itself has a relaxing and slow life environment which makes it a perfect place for creating artwork, even though it is the second biggest city of Thailand. There are many art spaces and people who have similar interests that will gather and share their opinion.
AAT: What advice does Torlarp have for young artists who are nervous about making money or supporting themselves ?
Torlarp: “In many countries that I have been, even in Thailand, they are always talking about no one supports young artists even from the government. As I grew up I’ve realized that the artist has to make his way to become an artist, there is no shortcut. If you want to become a big name artist you have to continuing doing your artwork and keep improving skill all the time. Some are probably taking more than 10 years to become a famous artist. Let’s think in positive way – if you love what you’re doing, you’ve given yourself joy. Even it might not make a lot of money starting, but just keep doing it and improving your skill over time. Many famous artists start from a young age with a small amount of money.
AAT: Lastly what art or ideas is Torlarp most excited about in 2019?
In 2019, Torlarp will have an exhibition in Singapore called “Insignificant Meaningful”. This exhibition will be held on April 18th, 2019 at Esplanade, Singapore. The artwork is about the memory of object, and is a continued project from the last show “Spiritual Spaceship” in the Bangkok Art Biennale. Before, the “Spiritual Spaceship” artwork is about the memory of my grandmother and her belief in spirituality. Now, this work “Insignificant Meaningful” is more about the diversity and symbolism of the object. These objects, different, fit together in this collage sculpture. What it expresses is the convolution of diverse people that can live together; that the differences fit together to move people forward in memory.