Niwat Chootoun grew up in the South of Thailand thus having many parts of his hometown formed as the main inspiration for his creative work. As a child, he grew up with a simple lifestyle as his family lived in a small village. He formed a strong bond with his hometown and grew an attachment to the easy paced life that he had there. The sentimental attachments to the routine also grew independent attachments with the natural elements surrounding him. Whether it’d be the smell of the atmosphere or the warmth of the weather, Niwat makes sure to communicate those memories through his artistry.
The nostalgia of the past seemed to be positioned as an ideal world for the artist. Is it perhaps a longing for the once-strong relationship between him and the area, community, kinship or family he left behind? It may have been lost or subsided as a result of moving or having no sense of belonging. “A return to the relationship of the past, which is an important feeling for me seems to be the only thing that would allow me to maintain my original identity and space,” Niwat explains. What we see and understand is a reflection of people’s life in the simple, peaceful countryside through Niwat’s paintings. In fact, it is a reflection of the artist’s own life: exhibiting his feelings in the present life that yearns for comfort from the past — forming a very nostalgic relationship. In fact, we are well aware that communities and homes might just be a reproduction of the past. a lonely place even inviting us to come back and question ourselves What is still missing from life? in our present
The desolation in Niwat’s paintings reinforces the imagination of a world that doesn’t exist. This is because in reality, there is no community in the world that is so desolate — except for the deserted city in Ukraine or the Fukushima village in Japan that was affected by the nuclear power plant explosion, but even so the state of the house is still intact, the objects are still arranged in an orderly and natural way, but just without the presence of people. This makes Niwat’s work a possible representation of a phenomenon that is not far from reality. This desolation, however, would in a sense, bring a special sense of serenity to his paintings but on the other hand reflect a feeling of emptiness, loneliness, the loss of something, a relationship or a community.
The concept is based on the Thai rural lifestyle — which mainly relies on nature as a form of construction. Housing, supplies, food, medicine or even some cultural traditions heavily stem from natural resources garnered from the environmental surroundings. These are all indications of a good relationship between man and nature. In rural communities of the south of Thailand, these lifestyles are commonly established and well known amongst villagers. This then became a simple way of life that many seek for as opposed to the modernize and technology-based life that may seem too complicated at times.
Longing for the past based on an ideal world that has been formed through memory not only satisfies ones feeling and desire but also expresses appreciation for viewers to understand and process. The wisdom, tradition, culture and language — once mixed with simplicity and unity are the main pillars of Thai rural lifestyle. With each region to exist under the strong trend of globalisation and consumerism, all we need is love and peace. According to Niwat, interdependence becomes the basis of life when we come to realise that one’s own materialistic needs is irrelevant to the basics of living.
It’s true that no one can physically go back in time to the past, even if you literally try to turn the hands of the clock. “I wanted to recreate the same environment; as if we were actually standing at a point parallel to that moment in time, as if everything that had passed was passing by,” Niwat explains his concept. He had put in his best efforts to recreate what he calls an “Imagination of the past” which is based on the idea of imagining and feeling the past; only to recall a world in which has been lost.
Nostalgia or one’s longing for the past can be more or less intense — these circumstances can all be based on the cultural context of each society. In a multicultural society, which is ever-present in the world we live in today, longing for comfort of one’s home only comes naturally. Due to the mixture of different cultures, people find confusion within themselves, therefore falling back to their roots and forming a desire for the culture they were once familiar with. Individuals who have immigrated or moved to a foreign country may also have stronger nostalgia than others. With a sharp change in location, instant adaptation to a culture is harder than it seems. Thus losing one’s sense of place may also cause one to feel nostalgic and hope to go back to where they what they’re used to.
Recalling his simple lifestyle has been a proud concept that Newt presents in his Fine Artworks. His first collection in 2007 had not presented a consistent concept just yet, but the year after was when he had developed his work and found an idea that he was passionate about.
Prior to his success, Niwat tested out several techniques to explore his artistic career. First, he tried eliminating the realism of the shape until it was just the appearance — this sharped his art style and made his path more clear. His work was a symbolic semi-realistic piece that can lead the viewer to many interpretations of the subject matter; it is not simply mimicking natural realism. The presentation of the scenery in the painting, when viewed carefully ranges in different perspectives. Creating textures and different patterns of the objects such as patterns of baskets and clothing based on local Southern Thai style reinforces the artists cultural ways within his technique.
The early 2010’s was when major improvement struck Niwat as an artist. “I started drawing specific parts of nature and drew every little detail. From the depth of the terrains to the creation of the atmosphere, my latest collection showcases the natural process of vegetation,” He explains. These all help to emphasise the concepts of identity and ethnicity in his paintings.