Kraisak Chirachaisakul started his career working with art-based jobs. After the political turbulence of 2010, he decided to go back to what he had left behind for nearly 20 years. Kraisak makes his return to painting in 2020 after a long hiatus, he also passed on his creativity to his son Wal, who now has many awards and whose work is now featured in the collections of Tim Cook and Bill Bensley. Wal’s sibling, Kit or Kraisak’s younger son is also an artist who recently opened up a gallery, his artwork also belongs in Cook’s art collection.
Kraisak, like many artists, started his creative journey during childhood and saw it as a challenge to sketch out sceneries, portraits and images of animals. Wherever he would go, he would sketch portraits of the attractive people walking by and was interested in how he processed those images and expressed them on canvas. Most importantly, working in the creative field for many years has taught him patience and perseverance. “If anything, having enough mental strength to keep you grounded consistently will fill you up with warmth,” He advises.
“I am impressed with many artworks, but I tend to favour realistic and impressionist pieces. However, I won’t dive too deep into a specific style. Whatever stands out to me, stands out,” he answers when asked about his preferred art style. Kraisak takes inspiration from artworks he sees in his surroundings and modifies it with his own personal technique, changing different elements and ultimately making his own original piece. “A long time ago in my youth, I deeply enjoyed creating works of art that expressed the complexity of desire, beauty, sweetness, innocence, and peace, through capturing the movements and poses of female figures. This concept faded over a period of time as I aged,” Chirachaisakul says. His work during the time remained portrait paintings of figures who he was interested in drawing – he started drawing portraits of renowned historical figures such as members of the Thai royal family and even Queen Elizabeth II. “People I draw who have preexisting history and are still alive on earth have their own individual story, so I don’t really touch much on the narrative as I feel that it is quite self-explanatory. The freedom to express or tell a story isn’t exactly my aim with these works, but my focus leans more towards technique, the shape and form of the overall work,” The artist recaps. Choosing to focus on the technical aspects of the art instead of the meaning allowed him to be more professionally trained, this led him to turn to mezzotint and finally put its technique into use. From his experience and observations, not many Thai artists are personally experienced with using the mezzotint technique to produce portraits. “After the death of his majesty the King Rama IX, I still try to keep his presence alive with my artwork. Around 2–3 of my pieces are about his royal highness, but they weren’t technically up to my standards so I eventually stopped,” He recounts. After this obstacle, he took a long break from art to take a step break and refresh his mind – not in a hurry to find further inspiration.
“Much later in my adulthood in the year 2018, I met a woman named Anastasia Maslova. The encounter immediately reignited the sense of beauty and romance that I had once attempted to capture and returned me to a sense of awe and lightness. It was a poignant reminder that the ideas I had explored as a youth were far from gone, and I invited her to be the central figure for this series of drypoint prints. The use of multiple plates enables color to play a definitive role in these settings, creating soft hues that cradle the gentle presence of the model and surrounding flora,” He tells us.
“I used to work with a company that sells makeup and was assigned to produce their catalogue. Next for me was becoming a visualiser in an advertising company for almost two years. After that I opened up a model shop that sells art toys, but whatever job I had, I found the talent in being able to sketch people,” He recounts. This led to a career change and the smooth transition to a full time artist with a strong expertise in printing and painting. “With a strong passion and a clear head, I became my own boss, which gave me the freedom I never knew I needed,” Kraisak explains.
Around the time King Rama IX passed, Kraisak struggled to find passion for his work and was confused as to what he wanted to do. However, meeting Anastasia for the first time, he refers to it as “love at first sight”. “It took me back to the time when I was a child and was still excited about any sketches I would see. Visuals and concepts popped up right away, so I knew I had to contact her, and I did so immediately,” He recalls. The artworks based on Anastasia were from different perspectives, using a variety of methods and techniques. He produced them without the purpose of forcing out an idea and copying other people’s portraits — “All I was interested in was drawing her because seeing her brought out countless interpretations. She was the medium for abstract expression. From the way she looks down to express her shyness to the way she stares into the audience to assert dominance, looking at her will inevitably draw a reaction. Whether she looks absent-minded or holding a sweet smile, dressed in a veil or nude — all of this is underlined by her quiet, ringing beauty.
Kraisak had recently come face to face with a disease that has no cure and may have an effect on his senses. With his vision blurred – implications arise: he does not have enough blood vessels to support his nerve endings, therefore mildly affecting his thought processes. He isn’t able to see creative visions the same way, but still manages to produce pieces that attract the eyes of many. “Attending workshops for my vision and exercising my senses on a daily routine has made me let go of the stress caused by my disease. I’m going to start from the beginning and go back to the basics. Of course my vision will deplete overtime if I continue to keep producing art, but what’s the fun in stopping now?” He says. Finding a healthy routine to adapt to his creative process isn’t as easy as it seems, but with the support of his son and having seen success — Kraisak is creating from pure love for the hobby.
Kraisak builds his art form around his models and the background of the subject he is drawing. By combining a technique that is complicated and takes a long time to perfect with graphic design makes the process a mixture between modern and traditional. This is a balanced and fun method the artist uses to make artworks of his own. Most of his pieces are mezzotint, drypoint, and monoprint; some are multicolored while some remain black and white. For most of his paintings, however, Kraisak chooses to use oil paint to sharpen his silhouettes.
Specifically creating portraits of people comes with its limitations; one of which is that major modifications shouldn’t be made. The work therefore proceeds in a detailed, fine-crafted style requiring more perseverance than ever. “I went back and revitalized the technique of printmaking because I wanted to make the people I draw feel special. If you think about it, most printmakers in Thailand rarely use mezzotint to do portraits — maybe you won’t find any at all,” He states with confidence. Printing is an adventure to Kraisak; “When making a print, we can’t know how good or bad it will be until we print it, just like how we won’t know what a stamp looks like until we use it,” He explains the process.