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41 year old, Silawit Poolsawat is an artist who comes from the Nakorn Srithommarat province which is located in the extreme south of Thailand. Admitted to the prestigious University of Fine Arts in Silpakorn (Bangkok), he will retain the training of science of proportions and a very refines style, focused on emotions rather than on the details that contrasts with the traditional Thai art.
Introduction of Portrait Art
At the beginning, mainly in political or funeral vocation in the ancient civilizations (Persian, Egyptian and Greco-Roman), the genre of portrait has significantly expanded and diversified with the rise of the bourgeoisie in Europe in the modern era (15th to 18th century) with the proliferation of ceremonial and devotional portraits or private portraits.
The advent of humanistic principles of the Renaissance resulted in making the Man and his portrait a central theme in painting aswell as in sculpture. More than just a simple trace of the past or an official picture, the Renaissance painters were able to infuse their life and personality into their portraits by inventing a reflection on the facial features of emotions.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, challenging the rules of probability and decency which are imposed by the Academy has allowed to explore new techniques of representation and to approach the genre of portrait genre in a more intimate aspect, freed from its strictly mimetic function. Furthermore, photography which began to be widely publicized in the developed countries, thanks to daguerreotype in the mid-nineteenth century, has completely changed the challenges of portrait painting.
So why do we still paint portraits today? Just like Poolsawat Silawit, many artists in Thailand today are a product of the University Of Fine Arts in Silpakorn (Bangkok). This university, founded in 1943 by Corrado Feroci, an Italian sculptor commissioned by the Thai government, provides education in history of arts and visual arts in the Western sense of the term. Students practice conventional, impressionist, expressionist and abstract techniques. Then how can they find their own way in a world of art in crisis, where all genres, narrative as descriptive, figurative as abstract, seem to have already been explored? This is where the sensitivity of Asian artists such as Po can give another dimension to the portrait.
Renewing the genre of portrait of face or bust, his paintings focus primarily on the personality of the model, excluding any superfluous detail, and communicate to the emotions that are evanescent and intense, singular and universal.
About Silawit Poolsawat’s Inspiration
It was during his wanderings in the city that he draws his inspiration. His models are mostly women and children whose expression has attracted his attention and so he has photographed them. The use of acrylic gives him the timeliness and spontaneity, capturing the expression of his models as he keeps them in his mind. Through his portraits, Silawit gives us a snapshot of everyday life and a powerful vision of the other.
Silawit is the author of many portraits, especially of women; by whom he finds the most expressive and favorable faces to communicate a feeling. To renew the genre, his approach combines both a very intuitive approach and a very spare style of Western influence to convey the emotions of his model. Po is currently working on a series of portraits of women from the minority of Hmong which is located in the north of Vietnam, photographed by Eric Monteil.