Kamol Tassananchalee is an artist from Thailand who traveled as an art student to Southern California, where he established in the 1970s. Since then, he has journeyed back and forth between Thailand and the Southern California and beyond as an artist, teacher and a Buddhist. In 1997, he was granted the title of National Artist of Thailand, a title which would have made his grandfather – court artist to King Rama IV (r.1851-1868) – very proud. The title means that outside Thailand, Tassananchalee serves as a sort of cultural ambassador, sharing the Thai artistic spirit overseas, while at home encouraging fellow Thai artists and his students to draw inspiration from both their own roots and overseas.
Over nearly five decades as an artist, Kamol Tassananchalee has been first and foremost a global artist, masterfully introducing elements of his cultural and spiritual heritage into his abstract paintings, from Buddhist symbolism to Thai kite flying. Many of his early paintings, including a series depicting the footprints of the Buddha made direct references to the Buddha. Before there were iconic representations of the Buddha, his teachings and spiritual power were symbolized by a wheel, a lotus, or his footprints. Tassananchalee’s representations of his footprints in his abstract paintings were likely more than simply honoring his own Buddhist heritage but also illustrating the fact that the Buddha’s teachings have extended well beyond his native Asia.
In recent years, however, his paintings have been more obscure in their references to Asian philosophy and largely transcend culture, religion and location. Primarily abstract paintings but also monoprints, his two-dimensional works occasionally contain creatures, photographic self-portraits and artists’ tools.
In an exhibition at LA Artcore’s Brewery Annex in honor of his 70th birthday, a collection of the most recent works of Kamol Tassananchalee illustrates the artist’s broad artistic and cultural range.
In two series of large paintings, “The Four Elements” and “The Universe”, the artist is at his most spiritual, drawing from Asian cosmology and also from his own dream world.
When I am sleeping I always dream of my creation. And then I work on the new concept in the dream after I awake.