Wattana Poolcharoen is a well-known artist with a long career behind him. He belongs to a generation of pioneering artists in the fine arts. During the 1970s, very few artists could earn a living through their art – far fewer than today. After studying contemporary painting at the Academy of Phoechang, Wattana began a career as a teacher before creating a large public relations firm in Bangkok. Despite his meteoric ascent, he decided to end his career in order to devote himself entirely to painting.
Wattana Poolcharoen’s passion about Ramakien
The Ramayana is one of the greatest epic poems of the Hindu religion, comparable to what the Iliad represents for western civilization. The authorship of this literary work was credited to Valmiki, an Indian sage who had probably compiled it between the years 500 and 100 B.C.E. At the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom (1351-1767), the poem was translated from Sanskrit into Thai, and it Thailand, is known as “The Ramakien”. However, all versions produced during this period were destroyed in 1767, when the Ayyuthaya Kingdom was sacked by the Burmese army. A new version was redacted thirty years later, under the supervision of King Rama I. “Ramayana” means “Rama’s journey” in Sanskrit. The poem recounts the adventures of Prince Rama and his quest to rescue his wife, Sita, who was abducted by the demon Ravana (Toksakan). The story opens with a description of Rama as a youth in the Kingdom of Ayodhya and his encounter with Princess Sita, with whom he falls madly in love. A plot forces Rama into exile, with the princess, and he is joined by his brother Lakshmana. After Sita’s abduction, Rama sought out Lanka, the city of giants, where she was being held captive. During this quest, Roma was aided by Hanuman, a mischievous ape who offered Rama his help and protected him from danger. After many unexpected events and a great, epic battle, the two lovers reunite, and are married by Shiva.
The Ramakien is an integral part of Thai culture, and it finds expression in Thai literature and theater, as well as in popular culture. The characters and the scenes, from the most comic to the most farcicle, are well known to all Thai people. Many musical and dance performances, plays, and works of art contain references – generally direct references – to The Ramakien.
Wattana Poolcharoen is one of the best known and most respected illustrators. His artistic style has evolved over the course of his career, yet he remains loyal to the theme of The Ramakien and its epic character. He’s preserving the legacy of Ramakien today in his graphic renditions.
Wattana is an artist who has dedicated his life’s work to celebrating Thailand, its beautiful landscape and its culture. Alongside the numerous landscape and genre paintings, Wattana’s illustrations of The Ramakien have made him one of the poem’s greatest representatives.
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