Melissa Muys wonderful world


I met Melissa Muys in Damme near Bruges in Belgium. She was exhibiting her paintings in a small gallery and we got to talking. I was very fascinated by her paintings. They depicted creatures with animal and human features. At the same time, they were painted in such detail that they came to life before my eyes. And each of Melissa’s creatures had its own little story. This made the exhibition all the more interesting.

No wonder Melissa is now working on her first children’s book. Her concept is great, and I’m sure the new work will also be a success. Good luck, Melissa!

Preface by Melissa Muys:

How kings butter their buns, where priests get their holy water or which wine the prime minister preferred with his piece of game, is certainly mentioned somewhere in the chronicles.

But what about common people? What do we know about them? How did they live the past centuries? That knowledge has often been lost. This heritage cell will change that in the future.

You can read these stories divergently; enjoying the banality of everyday life. You can marvel at the openness of a people. You can laugh at their foolishness, be amazed at their survival instinct and watch them wallow in their situation and continue to wallow, how they struggle with life, adapt to circumstances just to stay afloat and be part of the society we  live in.

You can also search for a deeper insight. After all, history is viewed here for the first time from a completely different point of view. These are no longer the scientists or the politicians to tell how society works. No, this is the people, ordinary simple people who are in the middle of life and share their experiences with you.

A vision is never rigid, everything is coloured, there are always different angles from which to illuminate. Life, history, society is made up of puzzled pieces. All those pieces click together, complement each other. It just comes down to finding the right click.

Culture grows and flourishes, where all the pieces touch, where one complements the other.

These stories reflect the society and generation in which we live.

Culture is the foundation of our identity.

The matter that is close to my heart as a professor is not unequivocal and evokes a lot of friction. For many years I was an absolute advocate in preserving traditional cultures. That is how this heritage cell came about. Yet I would like to emphasize that the quest for balance is the key to succes. Culture of all kinds are the foundation of our identity. That is precisely why evolution and change of that culture is inevitable and necessary.


The swimmer

Together with my father I crossed the Amazon. We visited village after village. Every community had its own knowledge, own rites and beliefs. The outside world scoffed these cultures and depicted it as retarded. Those who did not disappear into the shadow of the Amazon forest, westernized and lost the knowledge that was passed on from generation to generation and what remained in the end? Now more than ever before social media swallows every piece of personality and waltzes over us in unity march. Popular songs, photos and movies supplant any form of folklore. 

Until recently I was deeply convinced that individuality was of the utmost importance. But what about the problem of integration in the case of large population movements due to war or poverty? To what extend does culture play an important role here? Should folklore be preserved at all costs?  Tie-up may not be an option after all. Culture evolves.

When it doesn’t, we alienate from society. Remember the Mormons, the shaker community, communities of conservative faith. Changes are part of life. You cannot freeze time and the once that are not able to change opinions come to a death end at one time. Insight teaches that the quest for balance is vital. 

You should agree that these comments are something to think about? 

About my mom Sorina

Although I am very grateful that she fled her homeland and made our lives much easier, I can only say that my mother was a tyrant. She was actually a perfect publicity board for the state in which she was raised; the land she spit out all her life.

She fled at night. On a freezing winter night she waded through the cold glacial waters of the river right there where the river is at its widest and the chances of survival of a crossing were considered nil. But my mother pulled it off, all on her own. She undressed on the other side, took dry clothes from the bag she had tied on top of her head, and stepped into a new life.

I was her oldest child and only daughter. After me came Christopher and Samuel. But all she really cared about was making money, getting out of the pit of poverty.

And it must be said, she succeeded.

Our mother founded „Sorina ways“, a transport company, with the help of our father. She conducted and our father delivered, in the most impossible places. Sometimes he was on the road for days.

I had two brothers. Christopher and Samuel. Both had a difficult childhood. Christopher is a gorgeous guy, he loves beauty but suffers from social anxiety disorder. 

„Samuel knows no fear but resolutely turned away from society and lives in isolation.“ 

Professor D. Kabriç

Melissa_Der Professor

Professor D. Kabriç

At night, devoid of all light
awakens my soul.
She frees herself from the lumpy flesh
and dances across the room.
Silky fabric wraps around my arms
as if the silk itself seeks security
It sticks to my spine
and tickles my legs.
A dreamy pirouette,
a breath of wind
The dust blows up
and embraces me again, and again, and again.
Devoid of all light, I feel the tangible existence of my body.“

Christopher Transala


My name is Sam, short for Samuel.



I am a fisherman. The raging sea is what I adore: to feel the struggle between life and death in all your limbs.  Back then I didn’t care if I had a good catch. The thinning, the tossing, the being washed over by high cold waves, the feeling of being alive! Ooh, how I miss this, now being old!

Women and booze have never appealed to me. I loved the silence, the whispering winds, the far-reaching views, and certainly not the drunken talk or affection of searching women.

Then one day the lighthouse was for sale.  I thought, this one is for me! Here I can spend my days in seclusion. I will enjoy the foggy nights, when the clouds embrace me and the wind sings to me….

But as I sit here and think back fondly on my time at sea, I wonder if I made the wrong choice. Maybe one day I should have just set sail to never return. 


I’m Sorina, I’m from Transpartania, but I’ve lived here almost all my life. I fled. I had to leave, I wanted to live, I wanted adventure and I wasn’t going to find that in Transpartania.



My country is screaming stop! Don’t come any further traveller! This is the end, a little further and you will fall off!

Fleeing west, I couldn’t take much. All extra ballast was left behind. Three small perfume bottles was all I took. Two of them survived the journey. Perfume was the center of our existence for my family. We, women have a particularly well-developed nasal organ. From far and wide people came to buy my mother’s aroma blends.

Perfume was an important commodity in our region. A weekly bath was non existing. Overhere we would rather call it a summer bath. A dip in the river often had to suffice to maintain hygiene, then you understand that wrapping yourself in fresh aromas became not just a luxury, but of pure necessity. The whole village depended on my mother’s aroma sales. Some went into the mountains in search of special flowers, others were involved in drying flowers and herbs. In better times, the bottle industry itself flourished.

But our country is barbaric, and whenever our business was doing well, it would surely be destroyed by another conflict, a village war, a blockade of roads, destruction of buildings. 

Again and again we had to start from scratch. That weighs and one day it’s too much.

Gaston De Meaurain

My name is Gaston De Meaurain. I was born in January 1908, in a completely different world!

Gaston de meaurain gouden achtergrond


When I was about ten years old, towards the end of the war, a French plane crashed near our village. We tended the pilot and hid him from the enemy.

In the early 1920s, I decided to visit that pilot in France. He was a cousin of René Caudron, the founder of the aircraft factory in Crotoy. In gratitude for my help during the war, I was given shelter in their home. I got a job in the factory, got to know René better and was given the possibility to join the flight school. It was a fantastic time. Pilots from all over the world came to Crotoy. They were prepared here as an elite corps of the flying fleet, and then there was me, a son of a West Flemish farmer, who for some reason got acces to everything.

I continued to work for René in Crotoy until he decided to withdraw from the Caudron-Reunault partnership in 1939.

When World War II started,  all activity stopped in Crotoy. I secretly tinkered with a plane using pieces left behind in the old warehouse. When the war ended, my plane was ready. I said goodbye to René and took off with my first test flight. I was euphoric. No one thought I would get that old box up in the air!!!!

I ran out of petrol somewhere above Antwerp, so I landed on a field. Even before I had come to a good stop, Sorina stood there. She spoke Romanian, had fled Transpartania.

At flight school I learned a mouthful of Romanian. Meeting Sorina defined the rest of my life. We set up a transport company. With my plane I flew all over Europe, to the most remote places. The adventure I had dreamed of all my life became a reality thanks to the strength of my wife.


Oh God, My name is Basil. I spent my childhood in the States, but returned to my roots. My mother left here by boat to America in the late 1930s, in search of a better life. All my life I heard her tell about her life in Europe and her boat trip on the red star lines.

Basil cars


When I visited here, I felt like coming home. And of course meeting Christopher also helped. I never left.

Christopher needed me, so I had to stay …

I’ve been a costume designer for the theater all my life. A fantastic job! Very beautiful years … Christopher likes to dress up, especially in my feminine designs. I now also make them especially for him. He still doesn’t really wear them outside, but on special occasions, when the evening twilight blurs the contrasts, he ventures into the public eye. He walks so gracefully in high heels. You should see that! He chooses a dress and I get to do his make-up. Delicious!

More pictures by Melissa and her fascinating world:


Meet Melissa on Instagram!

Art Opening at Selegie Arts Center, Singapore

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SERENDIPITY II from October 3 – 7, 2019

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On the walls, visitors found what curator Fiorenza De Monti said both artists spent many years away from their original homes and were drawing their inspiration from memories.

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The curator Fiorenza De Monti (middle) with the two artists.

Indeed, inspired from Frédérique Stref’s and Kieu Hanh Morel’s serendipitous encounter in Singapore, the exhibition featured abstract and figurative works stemming from the artist’s memories and experiences. Both of them grew up in creative environments. Morel learnt to draw from her architect father and this skill heavily informs her current practice of painting from photographs. Stref spent her childhood in her father’s glass-making workshop in Nancy, where she became fascinated with the spellbinding translucent density of Pâte de verre, a fascination that later influenced her to turn to encaustic painting.

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Morel’s oil and acrylic paintings express a nostalgia for her homeland through idealised depictions of its rural world and inhabitants, in the traditional Vietnamese figurative style. Stref’s encaustic paintings capture the impressions gathered by her senses in the different countries she visited, resulting in images that are both abstract and tangible.

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The exhibition brought together artworks inspired from different cultural backgrounds, sensibilities and techniques, which confront the viewer with personal outlooks on the world.

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Climbing the steps up and emerging into space dominated by light and permeated by sounds of visitors interacting with art, you knew you’re at Selegie Arts Center.

Giuseppe Ragazzini: An approach

_Guarda a sinistra!_, mixed media on paper, 2006, 27x35 cm (Large)



MORI Gallery
29 November 2018 – 19 January 2019
Vicolo del Vescovado 5/A, Parma, Italy

_Bus_, 108,3x77 cm., 2009, Giuseppe Ragazzini (Large)

By guest author Clare Ann Matz

Painter, set designer, and visual artist Giuseppe Ragazzini was born in London in 1978.

After earning a degree in Philosophy, he became fascinated by the vision of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s documentary Le Mystère Picasso, and in 2002 he began using digital techniques to film the creative process of producing the pictorial image.

Dedicated to both painting and pictorial animation, Ragazzini has developed his own technique for pictorial animation and digital set design, which makes use of huge videoprojections and „mapping“.

Vanoni Servillo, _Le Canzoni della Mala_6 (Large)

In his work, the image becomes subject to an incessant transformation from the permanence of its preceding elements – a flux, a digital collage of elements continuously superimposing over themselves.

His set designs and projections have been displayed across Europe in theaters including Milan’s Piccolo Teatro Strehler and Venice’s Teatro La Fenice.  His animations have been featured in several of the main international animation festivals, including International Trickfilm Festival of Stuttgart, Anima Mundi, International Animation Festival of Brazil, Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), International Festival of Erotic Animation (FIAE), Festival Internazionale at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome, and Visionaria International york philharmonic-giuseppe ragazzini-dolce vita (Large)

In september 2014 he realized the video set design for the opening gala of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center. In July 2015 „La Dolce Vita, the music of Italian cinema“ was put on stage at the 58. Spoleto Festival. He has also produced videos and set designs for famous Italian musicians such as Avion Travel, Paolo Conte, Vinicio Capossela, Lucio Dalla, Gianna Nannini and Ornella Vanoni.

_Uomo con bambino_, (detail), 2014, mixed media on paper, 70x100 cm (Large)_uomo seduto su poltrona_, 2014 tecnica mista su carta, 70x100 (Large)From _The crumpled series_, 2016 (Large)

Ragazzini’s paintings and illustrations have been displayed in international exhibitions, collections, galleries, books, and periodicals, and he collaborates with the newspapers La Repubblica and Le Monde. Giuseppe Ragazzini is the son of the Italian photographer Enzo Ragazzini.

He lives and works in Milan.

ingranaggi facce (Large)

Clare Matz‘ Interview with the artist:

In which ways has the rich artistic heritage from Italy and Europe influenced your creative language?

My work, especially when I use the collage technique, is largely influenced above all by the Renaissance and Flemish painting. I like to think that this is partly due to my origins, half Italian and half Dutch. These inspirations and suggestions are declined in an imaginary that largely takes inspiration from the reality of our everyday life. Just think of my series „Mysterious Routine“, a series of characters sitting inside a modern bus, made using pieces of Renaissance paintings.

Who/What have been your mentors/teachers?

I am self-taught, which in part I think has saved me from the risks of the „academy“ and the risk of losing the signs and the language I was lucky enough to find myself naturally with since I was young. I am grateful, however, to my parents who were able to recognize and support this pre-disposition without forcing upon it.

My father Enzo in particular (an internationally renowned photographer) was and still is an artistic and moral model for me, a great teacher, an inspiration, as well as a friend and a travel companion from whom I have learned a lot about the shape, the sign and the freedom of artistic experimentation.

From the theatre to television and animation films to the printed page; from pop music, to classical music and more. How do you approach the projects in such different „ambients“? Is there a media you prefer working with? If so why?

My language tends continuously to contamination. The various „drifts“ I have undertaken over the years have all been natural evolutions of a journey begun with traditional painting. Initially I started using digital technologies to summarize the creative process in its development. A technique that I call „pictorial metamorphosis“ was born when my father showed me the documentary: The mystery of Picasso.

The pictorial animation arrived only later, when I felt the need to „animate“ my characters, my paintings and my collages. My pictorial animation and my video scenography is mostly my pictorial works and moving collages. There is no particular field I prefer, the only criterion is the freedom I enjoy in these situations. Obviously, the more I am free from various conditions, the happier I am and I think this always affects the result obtained.

What advantages have the new electronic technologies brought on for creative mutimedia artists like you?

My relationship with the digital world is very strong, although always starting from an analogical base. I believe that in many ways this is an unhappy era for contemporary art, where bluffs abound and often the excess or the end is found to be „an end for the sake of it“. However, I must admit that being born in the digital age was a great fortune for me: I was able to experiment with technologies that did not exist or had exorbitant costs until a few years ago. Just think of pictorial animation or collage or video projections. I believe that the fact of living in this time is the face of my art and my research in the digital and interactive media, a sort of small link between tradition and modernity.

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You have created a marvellously interactive app named Mixerpiece. Why did you make it and how did you develop it?

Mixerpiece was born as a creative and educational application able to bring children closer to contemporary art. For years I had this project in mind and the opportunity came after a large permanent installation that I made in the waiting room of the Meyer Pediatric Hospital in Florence, where I also designed an app for hospital children. On that occasion I finally approached the world of teaching and applications and then I finally managed to realize my project.

However, Mixerpiece is not just a children’s app, but it is also a powerful creative tool for adults and even professionals: it is a sort of digital magnetic board with a series of elements, collected in categories, that can be combined to create new collages with infinite and very surprising creative possibilities. The peculiarity is that all these elements are extrapolated from famous masterpieces of art of all the centuries.

If you make ‚long tap‘ on an element you open a card that shows the work from which the piece has been extrapolated and some insights. Creatively speaking the most exciting feature is the ability to change your collage by shaking the iPad, which automatically creates new combinations of pieces starting from the outline of the first illustration created.

What are you presenting at the Mori Gallery in Parma, Italy?

There will be various works on exhibition, from my digital collages, drawings, ceramics to some works that I would call sculptural. The exhibition will end with the screening of my video The Kiss, a passionate kiss collage (made using 60 collages composed of pieces of work by great masters of the Renaissance), a metaphor for the ambiguity and mutability of Eros and human sexuality.

Giuseppe Ragazzini kiss frames copia (Large)

The project presented is an evolution of the theme of the grotesque and the newspaper, a theme dear to me. I like to talk, sometimes even in a rather brutal and disquieting way, of what surrounds us.

I believe it can be defined a work on identity and its grotesque manifestations, a changing identity consisting of endless fragments in constant change. I would like to thank Virginio Mori and Giorgia Ori (curator) for this opportunity to show my latest work.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a video set design for a play by Lucia Poli directed by Angelo Bruno Savelli and I’m working on a pictorial video mapping project for a table.

At the same time I’m planning a „Pro“ edition of my ‚Mixerpiece‘ application and I am carrying  on  with my work as an illustrator, collaborating regularly with some newspapers including Le Monde.

Thank you.

L'Illusionista, Teatro dei Rinnovati, Siena (Large)



Cindy Sherman, City Gallery Wellington


The first New Zealand solo exhibition in more than 25 years by internationally-acclaimed artist Cindy Sherman at City Gallery Wellington is on show until 19 March 2017.thumb_cindy-sherman-untitled-466-courtesy-the-artist-and-metro-pictures-new-york-the-artist_1024

New York-based Sherman is widely considered one of the most influential artists living today. Her practice has challenged and shaped the way we think about contemporary photography and her works confront stereotypes and cultural clichés, probing at society’s fascination with issues surrounding the representation of women and the cult of celebrity.

For over forty years, the New York-based artist has used herself as her own model in staged photographs, transforming her appearance through make-up, costumes, wigs, prostheses, and more recently, digital effects.


Her chameleon-like transformations offer a sustained, cutting and at times disturbing investigation of gender, social conditioning, narcissism and celebrity culture. Cindy Sherman is a major exhibition of Sherman’s photography since 2000, the moment where she returned to photographing herself after a decade of wilful absenteeism from her own work. Cindy Sherman features over 50 large-scale photographs created since 2000, and includes images from fashion house collaborations with Balenciaga 2007-2008, and Chanel 2010–2013 as well as the iconic ‘Head shots’ 2000-2002, ‘Clowns’ 2003–2004 and ‘Society portraits’ from 2008. The exhibition also includes her most recent series referencing old Hollywood glamour along with a large scale, site-specific mural.


City Gallery Wellington Curator Aaron Lister says, „Visitors will get a rich sense of everything Sherman has made since 2000. She works in discrete and bounded series – this exhibition samples generously from every series from the last 16 years. We see Sherman reappearing as a model or a character in her photographs, and also her embrace of digital photography to open new possibilities or worlds for these characters to inhabit.“


There will also be a related exhibition of Sherman’s found photographs, albums and scrapbooks. This collection of other people’s photographs—some of which were first shown at the 2013 Venice Biennale—demonstrates how she trawls the collective image bank of culture, and her fascination with how other people present themselves through photography.

Accompanying the exhibition there will also be a series of film screenings – many of which have been selected by Sherman – that have informed her practice, including her own film, Office Killer (1997).

City Gallery Wellington is the only New Zealand venue. Until 19 March 2017.


Photos: Courtesy of City Gallery Wellington.


Dave Goodin, Sculptor, Stewart Island


Dave Goodin lives as an artist and sculptor on Stewart Island. He offers classes of Jade (New Zealand greenstone) carving. It is a journey into the 3D realm. „I like to show my students the third dimension which they experience when they carve a piece for themselves. It is a remaining jewel, some art from the south of New Zealand. And whenever you rub greenstone it comes alive in your hands.“


Talking with Dave about his life: „As a young man I was logging trees in New Zealands North Island until a falling tree injured me. I could not work anymore. As soon as I recovered from the accident I wanted to change my life. All the time I was interested in Maori art and I began to study it at a community college at Hawke’s Bay. This was back in the mid 1980s. In my second year of college I taught children lessons in Maori art. In the meantime I developed my own style, my own pieces of art. At that time I used cow bones.


For the next 4 years I lived in London where I had my first exhibition in 1997 with my pieces of carved stones and bones. As a bread job I worked as a porter in a hospital. In 1999 I lived for a while in China as an English teacher. Still I continued my art. I liked living in China, the country and its culture impressed me.


Back in New Zealand in 2002 I got a job with Sir Peter Jackson, producer of the Lord of the Rings movies. As a sculptor I worked on the movie setting. I entered a magical world. In total I worked for him for 4 years.

Also I participated at the production of the movie King Kong. I was responsible for everything in the movie which looked green: plants, trees, landscapes. The next film production was The legend of Zorro, with second-unit photography in Wellington.

In 2014 I came to Stewart Island to visit a college friend. I felt in love with the place and I never left. Why? Because of its amazing environment, the few people here, no pollution and because of the weather which always is a surprise.

Want to know more? Contact:


A journey into 3D realm. Dave teaches the art of greenstone carving in his studio on Stewart Island.

Lala, Painter, Udaipur

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I met Dhrur Sharma, nick name „Lala“ in Udaipur. His gallery is opposite the Hotel Pichola Haveli. He shows his paintings in miniature art. The 38 years old artist paints for the last 21 years. He got inspiration from his artist family. For one painting he needs about 9 days with daily 6 hours of work.IMG_4259 (Large)IMG_4258 (Large)IMG_4257 (Large)IMG_4261 (Large)


Burçin Erdi, Painter, Istanbul

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA„I like to watch movies. Normally I look at them in the night and I draw my inspiration from the moving pictures. Indeed, I like fantasy and science fiction movies.“

Burçin Erdi

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAfter more than 2 years I met Burçin Erdi again in Istanbul. I visited the painter in her studio at the Anatolian side of town. We had a drink together and she told me about her last exhibition in summer in Boston, USA. And that she got married to an Istanbul movie director. She seemed to be very happy. In a few months she is expecting her first child.

I saw her new impressive series of pictures. They are mostly made of dark colours. Burçin got inspired by the recent refugee tragedy which leaves Europe breathless.

„I cannot close my eyes when people are dying. Therefore I painted them. I combine them with Athletics, with sportsmen. I just saw many photos from extreme sportsmen. I looked in their faces and I recognized that they all have the same expression. The same as those from people who are dying in the war or between borders. When people are crossing borders they do have all the same expression in their faces.“KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

And Burçin focuses on those images: Dying faces.

Refering to her dark pictures she shows me one of her recent paintings with a group of people at night, all starring in their smartphones and laptops. „That’s my so called blue light“, she admits.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Further she refers to Caravaggio and to Rembrandt. „They all painted pictures in the shine of a candle. Dark pictures.“

Good Luck, Burçin, on your new series of paintings!


Thép Thavonsouk’s sight of the world

L1180634 (Large)Brussels, Begramoff Gallery. The walls are decorated with stunning pictures in light orange, red and mystical dark colors. And in between there is Thép Thavonsouk, the Laotian-Canadian artists, dressed in a light silk dress and glad to greet all the visitors. I am also invited to his art opening in an arty quarter of the Belgian capital.L1180635 (Large) L1180639 (Large)

It is the first time Thép introduces his paintings to a Belgian, and to an European, audience. Most visitors here have cosmopolitan backgrounds, lived all over the world, worked at different places. Also Guy de Vleeschouwer, the gallery owner. Some time ago he met Thép in his gallery house in Luang Prabang in the lush northern part of Laos and was fascinated by his art. He invited him and his paintings to Brussels and everything started.L1180645 (Large)

Talking with Thép is a pleasure for itself. He looks to his picture in a deep purple color and with the imagination of a lonely monk in it. And then he speaks: About his intention to paint, about the world and his longing to go back once in a while to his birth place Laos – despite of living for decades in Canada. To pay respect to his father and his mother, whose ashes are buried in the capital Vientiane. “I have to go there every year to find my inner peace.”

Then he finally refers to that one purple painting.

“In my opinion purple is a color of spirituality. I like to share it with my audience. It is time to look into ourselves and reach a sense of peace. There is so much chaos in the world. I just want to share a sense of humanity. There is so much sadness around, so many things which are going against my human being. I like to see people happy but lately I saw the opposite. There is now so much uncertainty in the world. As an artist I like to say that it is not bad to go on, just to go on. I hope when people see my art they can feel spirituality and peace and the positive way of living their lives.

I don’t want to see people living in a negative way. Light, one of the focus of my paintings, means to me happiness. This is my small way of saying that I hope there is peace and tranquillity wherever you are.”

Thép Thavonsouk’s plans for the future are easy to handle. “I like to enjoy every minute of what we have and keep on going painting 7 days a week.” The 68 years old artist adds that he is a passionate tennis player. His home for the last 48 years is Calgary in Canada. “It is there where I have my friends who became my family and where my only fight is that one at the tennis court”, he ends, smiling.

Thep Thavonsouk at gallery Begramoff till October 23, 2015.L1180644 (Large)L1180630 (Large)

Thép Thavonsouk, Painter, Luang Prabang

DSCF6967 (Large)„My world is a world of colors and inspiration.“

Thép Thavonsouk

As a young boy of four Thép Thavonsouk began drawing and sketching. In the early 1950’s his father travelled frequently to Paris. He would return to Laos with presents for his young son. One of the presents was a box of watercolour paints. Thép would twist open the tubes of paint and smell them. To this day he still recalls that miraculous moment when his father watched him begin painting with brilliant colours for the first time. The paint box, a gift from his father, was a memory box like “La Madeleine” was for Marcel Proust in “Remembrance of Things Past” (“A la recherche du temps perdu”).bathers-ii

In the early 1960s at the Lycée de Vientiane in Laos, the French artist and teacher Marc Leguay took Thép under his wing and introduced him to live drawing. Leguay also introduced him to the French impressionists Monet, Cézanne, Pissaro and the Spanish Picasso, Dali and Miro.buttlery-circle-of-friends

Thép graduated with a Baccalauéat and was awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study art and international relations at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. His post graduate studies in Chinese painting were under the Taiwanese Masters Cheng Ming-Shien, Tien Manh-Shih, Li Pei and under Masayuki Miyata in Tokyo. At the end of the 1970’s, Thép quit his jobs as a French conversation teacher at the University of Lethbridge and English as a second language teacher in a high school. He dreamt of being a full time artist and playing his flute by the ocean. He decided to leave everything behind and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii. This is the birth of his artistic soul.saffron-robes-g (Large)

His apartment in Hawaii also served as his studio. He was free to paint and create at all hours, experimenting with several mediums, techniques and styles, searching for new ideas to incorporate into his art. Thép would wake up at two in the morning to paint before going to give tennis lessons at 7 am. His first Hawaiian exhibition was with a group of Honolulu painters who, on weekends, would come from all corners of the island to hang their paintings on barbed wire at the Honolulo Zoo fence for tourists to view and buy.monkswalking

“To be an artist is to be free to create without the heavy burden of fortune or fame.”

Thép Thavonsouk

His metamorphosis into a free artist encapsulated in a realistic watercolour painting of 40 butterflies with the red sun blazing in the background. It was titled “Destinés à un vol libre”. The sense of freedom led the artist to discover and paint Hawaiian fauna and flora, koi fish and the ocean waves for six years.june-rain-eThép went to Canada in the 1980s where he worked for a federal government agency helping immigrants from many countries to learn English. Having discovered butterflies free flight in Hawaii, Thép began to express the themes of solitude and peace in his work. He began to examine his soul and the world around him. He created art with the deep attachment to the earth and its seasons – the light, the water, the clouds, the mist and fog and the monsoon rain. Images of loneliness and strength made their appearance in Thép´s art in the late 1980s. Thép was drawn to his birthplace Laos. He travelled back to visit his mother. The monsoon rain, the fog and the mist from the Mekong River and the flow of monks´ robes became themes of his paintings.Saffron-Robes-in-Purple-Sky-1 (Large)

“My feelings are leaning more and more toward the elements. My work is not sentimental. I do not want my work to depict something that tells the whole story or speaks to a well-defined narrative.” Thép´s saffron robes series shine in the light of a field of orange.

Thép Thavonsouk with a visitor at his gallery in Luang Prabang.

Thép Thavonsouk with a visitor at his gallery in Luang Prabang.

Today his art speaks to modernity and tradition with equal dedication. It shows a deep understanding of both Asian and Western history and visual cultures. He found a way to incorporate these into his work.

Thép´s art has been collected by corporations and individuals in 5 continents and is shown in permanent collections at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Canada and the Singapore Museum in Singapore.nocturne-with-sunset-32

“Even though I have had many creative and international opportunities open to me, I knew deep inside these art and painting were my passions. It is a good thing I let my passions prevail, as the emotion, intensity and serenity of my work have blessed everyone who has experienced and attained one of the wonderful creations.”saffron-robes-d

My paintings are inspired by light and shadow.
I am moved by striking moods in the clouds,
rain and mist as well as
a flow of monks’ saffron robes.

There is a palpable hush of wonder with
no fixed perspective in my works.
My paintings grow out of silence;
a dreamlike morphology suggesting tranquility and
a sense of spirituality as figures dissolve
into landscape.

The fleeting passage of their quiet moments seen
on my canvas and rice paper shines the light
on the immensity of our universe and
the insignificance of human beings.

Thép Thavonsouknocturne-xii june-rain-j

Exhibitions of Thép Thavonsouk in 2015 are in September in Brussels, in October in The Netherlands, in November in Vientiane/Laos and in December in Paris.

Photos: Enric Boixadós (2)