With paintings selling for B1 million, Thaweesak “Lolay” Srithongdee, 44, is one of Bangkok’s hottest contemporary artists. He has also created a modern-day icon of the city: the giant, feminine alien sitting legs akimbo outside the BACC. On the eve of his new exhibition at The Jam Factory, Tàmçois, BK chats with Lolay about sad movies, the future and the beauty of imperfection.
Possibility grows from experience. I didn’t think my chosen degree subject [Fine Art] would be much help in my life, but once I stepped into Silpakorn University, I realized there were so many possibilities. I could go into theater production, advertising, writing, illustration. I haven’t stopped creating since.
New artists should make art their priority. Many fresh grads think they should find a job and start earning a living. This standpoint becomes an obstacle that limits creativity.
Do what you can and don’t have regrets as you get older. It’s true that it’s hard to survive being an artist; so many people ditch their dreams.
The most influential thing in my life is music. I love music so much. I love artists who can reflect their personality through their work, like Jim Morrison. We understand his life through the music. It makes me turn and look at myself and what I’m doing.
Making the short film Happy Band brought me to music. It required a fake band, so my friends and I created it ourselves, we had to make a fake band, so we did it ourselves, staging fake performances and writing songs to fit the film. After that, people invited us to play at a coffee shop in TCDC, and we had to practice for real.
I’m a small person. Anyone can be an artist. There are always chances to show your ideas. Don’t keep them to yourself and wait for opportunity to come. If you die tomorrow, everything will just disappear.
I love reading and watching things about death and war. Sad films make me cry, yet I also feel happy. Humans love sadness as they can relate to it. We’re happy when we’re overwhelmed by sad stories.
I believe in science and truth. I was so scared of ghosts when I was young, but I’ve gradually learned that these stories are created by people. When one person believes something it spreads and becomes distorted. Like religion.
I don’t let myself become involved in controversy. I don’t criticize or try to change anyone’s opinion.
News today is mostly crap. It’s not useful for society but we can’t turn away. I no longer watch TV.
It’s human nature to be dramatic online. We have to turn it off and do something else. I still have a ton of books I want to read and family I want to spend time with.
I love work with an aesthetic story. I love to read books or listen to music that lets us touch the story behind it; to see how others’ think.
Experimentation is in the blood of artists. Many people think about results and what they’ll get at the end. But as an artist, I don’t really think of these things. I just want to experiment with ideas.
I want to create a learning center which consists of parks, a library and a space for showing films and playing music. Somewhere everyone in a community can get involved.
Having a child meant I couldn’t focus on my work. But once my son was grown up, I gradually crawled back to the projects I couldn’t finish and I realized I still couldn’t finish them. It brought up quite mixed emotions, so I decided to compile them into an exhibition.
Live in the moment. My wife and I talked a lot about how to raise our son. But in the end, it was best not to worry about what the future would bring. If our son wanted to do something, we let him learn by himself.
Look for aesthetic value in everything. After reading about the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi—the beauty of imperfection—I understood the world a lot better. Anything and anyone can be beautiful.
Artists should divide their lives into two parts: one to create for the soul, and one to create for a living. I work for a living through design and writing books; the other work I do without caring whether or not it makes money.