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)

Venice – Biennale di Arte 2015: Georg Baselitz

L1170933 (Large)One of the significant styles which uses Georg Baselitz in his art are the figures with the head upside down.L1170934 (Large)Biennale di Venezia, Italy till November 22, 2015

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)

Pattarawut Prompat, Painter and Tattoo Artist, Saladan


I meet him painting in Saladan on the island of Kolanta. He is sharing the studio with his brother.

Pattarawut Prompat had to fight for his dream since his childhood: Becoming an artist. No, it was not at all easy for the today 40 year old. Born in Suratthani on Thailand’s east coast he wanted to attend art school but his parents were against his wish. So he ended up in a job as a car mechanic. „My parents were against my long hair and my tattoos, but they were happy when I studied car engineering.“KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

After some years the forced education was just too much for him: Unhappy with his life at all he became drug addicted. Again the parents tried to save him and put him in a monastery in Suratthani. „For 3 years I was living there as a monk“, he says. „And in those years with the monks I got back my balance, I got down to earth.“KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

After finishing the 3 years at the monastery he knew what to do: Following his inner voice of becoming an artist. During the next 3 years he worked at day in all kind of jobs. The money he earned he invested in his education at art school every night. He intensified painting and tattoo art. He lived in Laos, Vietnam and at the islands of Kosamui and Kophangan. „But there were to much party life, what distracted me“, he admits.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally he came to the island of Kolanta at the west coast of Thailand. „I was looking for inspiration and here I got it.“ Nowadays he lives in Saladan already for 4 years. In the future he likes to have his own gallery in Northern Thailand. Just another new beginning.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Anatole Ballovi, Poster artist, Kandi

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAnatole is a poster artist and lives for the last three years in the small city of Kandi in the northern part of Benin, West Africa. He found work in the art studio Don Celeste at Kandi’s dusty main road. The place is very small but at least Anatole has room for his table, a chair and himself.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHis education of becoming a poster artist took him five years in Benin’s capital Cotonou far down in the south of the country, many bus hours away. “I won three innovation awards”, he admits proudly before he continues his work.



Yaffah Kanfitine, Painter, Lomé

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI visit the Togolese painter Yaffah Kanfitine in his small studio in Togo’s capital Lomé. He specializes in contemporary art and started with painting in the year 2000. He never attended any art school.

“I am an autodidact”, he admits. Yaffah is 32 years old and was born in a small village near Lomé. “It is very difficult to live of art”, he says. “But being a painter is just the dream of my life.”KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHe is always looking for special topics. Now he chose education. “All the school pupils have their own history. That is what interests me.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASome years ago he taught art in the school of his village. “The kids told me their stories and I got the inspiration for that project.”
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAYaffah had already expositions of his work in other West African countries, as in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.
“For the future I love to exhibit more internationally, specially also in Europe and USA.”



Min Yan Naing, Painter

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMin Yan Naing is the little brother of San Naing. “My teacher is my brother”, he says. Encouraged by him he began to paint in 2004. “Everyday, from the mornings to the evenings I was drawing.” The 30 year old artist loves abstract and modern styles. In Ngapali Beach he exhibits in a gallery together with different painters. His brother´s gallery is nearby.


San Naing, Painter

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASan Naing is proud. His art gallery in this tiny remote beach town was the first which opened. It was in the year 2005 and Burma was strictly ruled by a military regime. At that time San Naing had finished his art studies at the State School of Fine Art in Yangon and was married. He liked the life in the capital, but he and his wife were originally from the town of Thandwe in Western Burma, near the magical beaches of the Bay of Bengal. The couple had to get permission of every visit which brought them home to their families.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAOne day, the authorities didn´t give them anymore the permission to go back to Yangon. San Naing and this wife had to stay in the remote area of their hometown. “Considering the situation now I was lucky not to be allowed to go back.” He had to make a living and of course, he wanted to work in art. By chance he opened a simple art gallery in neighbouring Ngapali Beach.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA“I saw tourists coming to this beautiful spot”, he remembers. Especially for tourists he opened his gallery, because they had been his first clients. In the beginning he painted only for them and to sell his art. But more and more he developed his own personality as an artist, his individual art. Nowadays he specializes in emotional art and the walls of the gallery are filled with women or couple portraits, all in the tropical setting of his home country.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAWith the opening of the country towards democratic reforms San Naing got a passport and can travel freely. He uses this freedom for exhibit his art in Bangkok, Thailand. Not he himself but his paintings travelled already to group exhibitions in Hong Kong and the US.

The 42-years old artist remembers the books he was reading as a pupil. “I visited regularly the library of my home town after school. There I found the amazing book on Myanmar’s famous painter Ban Nyang.” During colonial times he could travel to England for studying Western traditionally painting. “From this time on I was obsessed to become a painter”, San Naing admits.

He knows that a big part of his success is owned to tourists. To those foreigners who bring his art in other countries, talking about him, the Burmese painter from Ngapali Beach. He hopes that the good vibes continue and that more guests will come to his country. But all depends on the future of Myanmar.