Unfortunately, many tourists associate Thai art exclusively with pictures of elephants and Buddha heads. These are often well done and decorative but are so hackneyed as to ill-deserve the phrase ‘art’. I suspect commercial pressures have made many young Thai artists conform to what they think foreign visitors want to see. It is thus refreshing to discover that Thong Nai Pan Yai now has a resident Thai artist that is unashamed in pursuing his own artistic vision. His name is Top Thumvanit, and he has a studio and shop on the road leading to Wang Thong Waterfall. If you are in Thong Nai Pan and are interested in seeing real Thai art then you should make your way into the forest to check Top’s canvases out.
Top Thumvanit went to Silpakorn University in Bangkok to study fine arts. After a brief spell painting on the streets of Sukhumvit he moved to Krabi and then again to Khao Lak where he opened his own gallery called ‘Top Art’. He moved again in 2011 to start his second gallery in Thong Nai Pan Yai.
The favored medium of Top is oil and canvas. He varies between a playful realism and a magical surrealism. His subjects include Thai iconography as well as a tropical fairy land of gossamer-winged creatures sporting in luxuriant blossoms. It is eye catching art that reveals a fertile imagination.
All of the paintings are ‘one-offs’. Even if Top’s pictures don’t end up gracing major international galleries it adds to their appeal and value that the purchaser is getting a unique piece of art.
For those looking for a reproduction of another painting Top can meticulously execute copies of any painting he is shown.
With the general encroachment of big business it is good to see that the original bohemian spirit of Thong Nai Pan has not been lost, and that talented and interesting people are still drawn to the beauty of the area.
For more about Top, his art, and his life visit his appropriately named website: www.topartpaintings.com or drop in and visit Wang Thong Gallery.