“I chose to be an artist because I saw it as a career with many options. A professional artist that only creates art to be an academic artist is to do art work in parallel with constructive criticism,” The artist explains his creative journey. Thongmai Thepram works as a full time art teacher, testing his own knowledge on the way in his career. Improving and constantly developing his works is a daily task for him. “Being a teacher has taught me growth in many aspects — both in technique, method and perspective, it gives me an opportunity to work and learn at the same time,” Thongmai explains. He currently teaches in a university, where the equipment and setting are in full support.
Thongmai Thepram was gifted with a passion for art since middle school. He describes it as a talent — an area he is effortlessly good at and happy with pursuing. After joining several competitions as a child, he graduated high school to continue his bachelor’s degree in art. “I started selling my work when I was in my second year of school; that’s when I really started to think that art was gonna work for me,” He recounts. After graduating, he was given the opportunity to be a teaching assistant at Sarakham University for 2 years. In the meantime, he was also continually submitting contests and got awards during then. “I was immediately urged to immerse myself in the art industry after my work was being well received. My pieces were sold and became widely known,” He continued. It became a continuous opportunity for him to develop in terms of content, skills and working techniques.
Being an art professor, teaching his students allows him to explore new boundaries and expand his horizons, with many perspectives involved, new creative experiments have been enabled for him. “If you ask why I chose to specifically do fine arts, I would say that I chose to do what I’m most confident in; some may choose what they like to do, but what they like may not be what they’re good at,” The artist says with confidence. The reason for doing so is to take off the pressure upon creation — with time to relax, the artist tends to produce better work with much more ease.
The art concept of the artist changes through the phases in his life and also fluctuates according to his emotions and current mood. It is seen that the artist doesn’t stick with such a specific style, but signifies his work through the techniques and skill that he uses in painting. “I want my followers to not recognise me through concept, but through my skill; I find this to be more telling of a professional artist,” Thongmai simplifies. During his studies, he produced an art piece on chickens using acrylic paint on canvas; although the silhouette wasn’t precise or accurate in terms of detail, the still image of the movements are what captures the attention of the eyes. At this time during his career, his creative ideas were quite dark and different from what it is now, but it changed gradually once the influences from other artists had worn off.
“My collection after university was a good experience and actually made good results! I was very happy with the outcome and appreciated the success as an artist — it was a piece that led to my victory in many big competitions, which completely skyrocketed my career. I continued to develop these pieces during my masters as well,” The artist describes ecstatically. The artwork comprises a concept that reflects the state of society that has become a big disagreement within many Thai communities. As a common topic that is well agreed and discussed amongst Thais, his work resonated with many and shined light on a topic that was a taboo within the political environment.
The next collection of Thepram followed a surrealism concept, where a nude painting of a woman is drawn with the hybrid of an animal. This piece couldn’t be displayed at any galleries because it sold out so fast and many people favored this style of work. This was another achievement for the artist because of how fast it was sold to the art market despite the change of concept.
Currently, as an art professor, his works are more technical than ever. His self awareness through this career has changed his mindset to produce pieces that are original and don’t have the same elements as his previous ones. “My development is consistent — I am always finding ways to improve my techniques so that my work has dynamic,” He describes. The concept he wants to focus on right now is the current topics that are being widely discussed, including the present-day corona virus and how that has affected our function as a society. His current collection has been sent in to my competitions including Asia Plus, PTT and UOB, which had all given him great feedback as he was awarded a prize for every stage he entered. The most recent award being 2022’s UOB art competition for an artwork that he displayed at Chiang Mai Art museum. His other artwork was also auctioned off at RCB. All are categorized under modern art and had cartoon-like figures filled in with vivid hues. The inspiration came from his childhood playtime; whether it’d be his toys or the animated movies he would watch, these creative sources he viewed as a child became a sharp memory for him as he was about to have his first child. Having children allowed him to look back at these memories and have enough recollection to produce a collection inspired from this – the piece was entered in the 11th UOB art competition and amazingly came in first place.
“If you ask me, I can honestly say that I like drawing the most,” Thepram admits. Looking at his style, art form and content, we can see the difference through the varying phases but looking at it generally, one may not be able to tell that the work belongs to him. This is because he is always changing his art direction based on the pathways of his life. With the normal fluctuations of life, inspirations, point of view and ideas are bound to change, but what doesn’t is the notion of drawing. “Drawing is always the last step to every piece. No matter the color or size of artwork, I will always draw to polish and finish up my work. This adds depth and dimension to the piece and enables more detail and support to the overall visual form,” Thongmai explains his signature technique.
“My aim in producing artwork is to inspire and direct the perspective of society to a viewpoint that elevates their life, whether that would be in politics, ethics/morals or duties within a society,” Thongmai elaborates. “Our environment and mindset is very representational of one’s position in society and determines our value in life. I want people to look at my artwork and pick up even just a little bit of faith in humanity. Maybe push them to love life and love being human a little bit more than we do,” He continues. The charm in art for the artist is to look at it as high level science — he sees art as a wondrous creation of human civilization, made from wisdom and an intelligent take on aesthetics. To explain a complex train of thought and reflect deep and raw emotions through nothing but visuals is a wonderful step forward for humans.
“An artist’s creative work is like a short documentary of the artist. Some artists work their whole life without finding the attraction of their own art,” Thongmai suggests.
- 2022 Bronze Award, Established Artist Category,13th UOB Painting of the Year (Thailand)
- 2022 Young Artist Award The 5th CLMTV&CN Contemporary Art Awards
- 2022 Mahasarakham University, Thailand
- 2022 Award winning No.2, The 10th Asia Plus Painting Competition
- 2021 Gold Prize, The 36th PTT Art Award Competition
- 2021 Award winning, The 10th The White Elephant Art Award Competition
- 2020 UOB Painting of the Year Award, Established Artist Category,11th UOB Painting of the Year
- 2019 The Best Outstanding Award, Art Project with National Artist (10th Art Teacher)
- 2017 Targeted Creative Research in Visual Arts Scholarships from National Research
- 2017 Council of Thailand (NRCT)2016 Silver Prize, (Art Teacher) National Artist Roaming 2016
- 2013 Gold Prize, Phanomrung Painting Award 2013
- 2012 Grand Prize, Phanomrung Painting Award 2012
- 2011 Special Prize, The 23rd Toshiba Contemporary Painting Competition
- 2010 Fourth Prize, The 12th Panasonic Contemporary Painting Competition
- 2008 Fourth Prize, Young Thai Artist Award 2008
- 2004 Fourth Prize, Art Contest and Painting Award 2004
- 2018 “Record of story from traces city by found object” Exhibition
- 2013 “Metrology of Beauty” Exhibition
- 2011 “Introgression” Exhibition
Selected Group Exhibitions
- 2022 The New Ark Exhibition, River City Bangkok.
- 2022 The Group Contemporary Painting Exhibition At Chaingmai Art Museum.
- 2022 The 10th Asia Plus Painting Exhibition
- 2021 The 36th PTT Art Award Exhibition
- 2021 The 10th The White Elephant Art Award Exhibition
- 2019 19th Contemporary Art and Culture of Higher Education exhibition
- 2019 “To carry on art and culture in honor of the King of the land”, Thai Artists Contemporary Artists Award 2019 Exhibition, USA
- 2019 The 21st Panasonic Contemporary Art Exhibition
- 2018 International Art Workshop & Exhibition, Nakorn Ratchasrima
- 2018 Contemporary Art Exhibition by Muang Pae Artists
- 2018 The 5th CLMTV Contemporary Art Exhibition 2018
- 2017 Ratchathani of Art Exhibition
- 2017 Contemporary art exhibition “Hundreds of hearts for the righteous King”
- 2016 The 4th CLMTV Contemporary Art Exhibition 2016
- 2015 The Art Exhibition for The King “King, Agriculture, Art”.
- 2014 The 3rd Exhibition of Lumnamkhong Contemporary Painting.
- 2013 The 2nd CLMTV Contemporary Art Exhibition 2013
- 2009 The 21st Exhibition of Toshiba Contemporary Painting Competition
- 2009 The 11th Exhibition of Panasonic Contemporary Painting Competition
- 2009 The 24th Exhibition of PTT Contemporary Painting Competition
- 2009 The Exhibition of Deviation Group
- 2008 The 2nd Exhibition of Fine Art Thai-Vietnam
- 2008 The 10th Exhibition of Panasonic Contemporary Painting Competition
- 2008 The 20th Exhibition of Toshiba Contemporary Painting Competition
- 2008 The 25th Exhibition of Young Artist Contemporary Painting Competition
- 2008 The Exhibition of Amata Art Award
- 2008 The 54th National Exhibition of Art
- 2007 The Art Exhibition for The King by Kasikorn Bank
- 2006 The 1st Exhibition of Fine Art Thai-Vietnam
- 2005 The 2nd Exhibition of Young Artist and National Artist Camp
- 2004 The 19th Exhibition of PTT Contemporary Painting Competition