Naj Phonghanyudh (artist)
SEVEN FINGERS PRINCESS AND ME: TALKING TO THE LES MIS OF THAILAND
by Rattana Lao
BANGKOK – On a lockdown, two women were hectic trying to pull their lives together and
become who they envision themselves to be. One is an aspiring artist and a mother of one –
Naj Phonghanyudh – the artist we will be featured today and another woman was me – a
researcher who loves to talk art.
We were separated by distance and we are at different points in our lives. Motherhood
does change a woman forever – her hopes and dreams change and her child becomes the
center of the universe.
Once a perfectionist who loves French precision, Naj Han, as she likes to go by, admits that
her sense of self, her perception of art and her worldview completely change after her baby,
Mari was born. Naj Han loves art as a baby – she scribbled, drew and painted things around
her. In the interview, as she thought in retrospect, she said she enjoyed time being alone
since she was young and art allowed her just that. A good time on her own.
She was fixated with the concept of beauty, she loved fashion for its composition of colors
and expression of style and she admitted, “I loved drawing seven fingers princesses. They
weren’t Disney princesses, they were me.”
Naj graduated from Thailand’s most prestigious art school, the Silapakorn University where
she learned lithography and later pursued a study abroad at Ecole Nationale Superieure des
beaux-arts, where she learned print making. She admitted French has significant influence
on her artistic sensibility, especially the bold color of Henri Matisse.
When you look at her work, it is evident that she is a Modernist in its finest sense. Her
shapes and forms are simplified – though you can still tell what kind of flowers they are. But
they are not complicated. They are simple and straightforward. In my word, they are solid
just as the personality of the artist herself.
The journey of Naj as an artist is transformative, if not traumatic. As she struggled with
health issue so young, too young to remember, art is her form of expression. Art is her
friend. Art is her everything. Having slowly gained confidence and sense of self and greater
understanding about the world around her, Naj has spent the last ten years using art to
fundraise for all kind of social issues.
She dedicated her time doing fundraising for public hospital Ramathibodi as well as the
youth group UNITE Thailand where her paintings have been sold and such contribution has
been spent for supporting 3 000 students around Thailand to have the quality and equitable
opportunity to enjoy art activities.
She uses her colors, shapes, forms and brush strokes to inspire other subaltern in Thailand
to use as a form to express and become – free.
Although motherhood has consumed much of her time and attention, but she has not given
up on art. On the contrary, she used the limited time available on her own not to “perfect”
art but to “express it” as she sees it.
The metamorphosis of Naj Han as an aspiring artist to one of Thailand’s up and coming print
making expert exemplifies hopes for modern women. You cannot have it all. That’s a lie. But
you can have “most of it” if you try.
Unifying Potentials for the Future - Culture for Peace (UPF - Culture for Peace) is a comprehensive initiative that aims to create a dynamic platform for our common sustainable future. It is to architecture a global reach by enabling talented and engaged individuals (as well as institutions and associations) from various fields of culture (science, arts, sports, and the like), to support sustainable balanced and harmonious societies.
The basic tools of the Initiative's activities relate to the design, implementation and realization of projects from different fields of culture, the organisation and support of individual cultural events, the presentation and promotion of artists, scientists and cultural workers, as well as the presentation and promotion of their (peace-related) works and activities.
The interaction of (applied) sciences and arts within the broader environment is a focal content of the activity and the leitmotiv in their implementation.
The basic prerequisite and precondition for the creation, existence and maintenance of societies and organisations oriented towards the advanced peaceful future is the existence (or establishment) of social values in which it primarily and intensively develops, supports and perceives a culture based on the initiation, creation, development and exchange of human ideas, knowledge and talents.
The establishment and enhancement of a peaceful society embedded in the environmental harmony is the only possible way forward, towards a sustainable future. To its biosocial equilibriums, it presupposes the existence of supporting web of culture, creative ideas, skills wisdoms and talents. And vice versa: The culture of supporting various ideas, knowledge and talents, directed towards a sustainable future, presupposes the existence / establishment of a peace society and its organisations.
With our utmost pleasure, we are presenting the next artist and its selected work under the auspices of our project "CULTURE" FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: ART/ARTISTS IN FORE-AND BACKGROUND:
‘…like the techniques which made the protruding object stands out against the flat surface of the print I am different because of who I am and I accept me more as I am. Some who appreciates traditional beauty may feel intruded by this imperfection, whereas some may find that it encourages them to speak out against the flatness and norms’
Naj Phonghanyudh (Artist)
Naj Phonghanyudh is artist, mother and champion of social cause.
She is a professor at the prestigious University of the Arts in Bangkok,
Thailand. She completed her extensive studies in arts and art history,
in Bangkok, Kent and Paris respectively.
Her rich career is marked with numerous solo and group exhibitions,
as well as with the number of presentations, social actions and
However, this time we take a slight different angel in presenting our
forthcoming artist. It is in a form of short novel (above) – an essayistic
account over the meeting of two women – in times of planetary
imposed social distancing.
(The story written by Rattana Lao (young woman, thinker) about the
meeting of two women (artist and scientist), brings an additional
dimension to the presented image and features of the artist herself.
Therefore, this time we present the work, as a symbiosis of the
artistic-visual and the essayistic word – which also ‘paints a picture’
of something that we as human beings need and essentially are here
’CULTURE’ FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: ART/ARTISTS IN FORE- AND BACKROUND
The project "’Culture’ for sustainable future: art/artists in fore- and background" is conceptualized as a long-term, gradually evolving and enlarging, message of visual arts.
The content of this message should correspond to a specific topic (as the central constant of the long-term cycle):
"Sustainable Future - quo vadis: Process, metamorphosis, directions of movement (motion) of matter and spirit as essential building elements of being (existence)".
The very message senders are artists from all over the world, from different fields of visual arts (sculpture, painting, photography, design) with their chosen works that reflect/express the above stated theme.
The works will be presented as a front posting (on the start-page of this website), and will rotate during the year, changing every two months. In that way the artwork presented will be the first visual impression of the ‘Culture for Peace’ website.
The artworks themselves will be exhibited within the Culture for Peace project at annual exhibitions and presentations of the project (in various countries as well as annual in-house exhibitions).
The content of the project will thus create interaction between wider audiences and artists with their respective works from different corners of the world.
The ultimate goal is to provide an open stage, a platform for the artists' inspirations, works and messages that initiate (inter)actions between authors and audiences – all aimed at the creation of a pacific and balanced society as a sine qua non for our planetary sustainable future.
NARRATIVES OF HOPE: APPLIED SCIENCE IN THE CULTURE
Project ‘Narratives of Hope: Applied Science in the culture’ gives a floor to experts from different scientific and cultural fields. The leitmotiv of all topics, irrespectively from their thematic or performing diversity, is clearly set: Sustainable futures. In the closing, rep-up segment of these events, a microphone (for Q&A) always goes to young generation. For all the others in audience that is an opportunity to listen and get inspired – by words (or performances) of experts. It is a novel journey by content and style through the challenging and engaging topics facing the forthcoming generations.
‘MUSIC AS A CULTURE’
(in elaboration/planned) - estimated start of the project: 2020