National Artist - Visual Arts (Painting) Year of recognition: 2014
Chavalit Soemprungsuk was born on 30 July 1939. He received primary and secondary education at Vajiravudh College and continued studying art at Silpa Suksa School (presently called College of Fine Arts). He later pursued higher education at the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Printmaking, Silpakorn University.
Chavalit was the last batch of students who had opportunity to study with Archan Silpa Bhirasri before he passed away. Moreover, he was also fortunate to study with many art masters such as Fuea Hirunrak, Sanan Silakorn, Khien Yimsiri, and Tawee Nandakwang.
After graduating from Silpakorn University, Chavalit obtained a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture of the Netherlands for further education at the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Then, he took up residence in the Netherlands for more than 50 years. It is worth noting that Chavalit is the first Thai artist who earned the accolade as a national artist of the Netherlands.
Due to his background in realistic art, Chavalit began his career by focusing on producing realistic artworks. Later, his artistic style gradually evolved toward abstract art. Initially, his inspiration for abstract art came from traditional Thai art patterns. His style continued to evolve toward the use of geometric shapes to convey thoughts and express his feelings and emotions.
Basic elements of Chavalit’s works are line, color, and shape, and he typically uses straight lines in his paintings, printmakings, and drawings. Each line is drawn meticulously while he totally immerses himself in the task at hand with calm mind. As a result, each line reflects purposeful rhythm and movement. Where lines intersect, overlapping and multi-dimensional perspectives create visual effects for viewers in an organized manner. Such execution is indicative of subtle and meticulous circumspection of the artist.
In terms of the use of color, Chavalit has gradually shifted from warm to cool colors or cool to warm colors, depending on the tone of color in the drawing. Sometimes he could come up with new colors derived from overlapping colors, thereby inducing the viewer to feel the movement of colors.
In terms of the use of shape, he uses geometric shapes in all his artworks. Typically, he places one geometric shape over another to create a perspective. In recent years, his printmakings and line drawings have been more unrestrained. Even though Chavalit spent his life in Europe for many years, his Easterner’s blood still runs through his vein. An aesthetic sense of simplicity, tranquility, and emptiness is discernible in his artworks, where divine Eastern philosophy manifests before the viewer’s eye.