Even to the untrained eye, cubism is one of the more distinguishable artistic branches. With its fractured elements and puzzling perspective, viewers can spend hours, even days turning over the same images until they make out a familiar outline.
Right off the bat at Creativbkk, Nattawat “Tee” Phansoing, who goes by the art alias Demian Factory, catches me up on some cubism 101. The biggest artistic movement in the 20th century was pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Cubism, as Demian Factory describes, “is a conceptual art form that reflects the perspective of the painter.”
As a child, Demian Factory devoured books and paintings from the likes of Van Gogh to Picasso. His fascination with Picasso’s blue period particularly inspired the artist to paint in indigo hues since he was 15. The first chapter of the current exhibition at Creativbkk is titled The White Period and bears similarities to its Picassian inspiration. A time capsule of the 2020 lockdown, the set of portraits reflects Demian Factory’s depression and the troubling despair on everyone’s mind at the time.
Angry brush strokes and use of whites and blues emphasise the hollow and frustrated artistic psyche, while blacked-out pupils create an unsettling pit in your stomach. Recounting this stage of his journey, the artist points out “I think the human eyes symbolise life. So the pupils in these portraits are all black, communicating a lack of livelihood.”
The follow-up chapter, Muse, is dedicated to shared moments with his girlfriend, Linin. The artist gushes, “When I met Linin and began to fall in love with her, the colours started coming back in my work again.” But soon we notice that the blues still linger here and there. On that, the love-struck painter echoes the realities of dealing with mental illness saying, “Depression isn’t something that you can completely recover from. It comes in waves and sometimes I still feel down.”
Colours aren’t the only noticeable shift from The White Period to Muse. Though the foreground is an obvious love letter to his special someone, the backgrounds are also an Easter egg of the couple’s shared interests. You can spot works of Mondrian hidden in the backdrop, an ode to their adoration for the Trafalgar Square artist.
As you may have already caught, Demian Factory is no stranger to revealing his artistic muses. In one of the stand-out paintings, he references three aspects of Picasso’s work—the blue period, women, and Guernica. In the background of another piece, the artist also pays homage to the lotus paintings of legendary Thai artist Wongmueng “Thawee” Nandhakwang.
When Demian Factory’s interest in cubism sparked, he had trouble searching for contemporary cubists, especially in Thailand, lamenting that all the greats have passed away. He began practising cubism in 2017 by decoding the stylistic strokes of those who came before him. This didn’t come easy, and the artist almost quit several times. When asked if he’d taken any art courses, the largely self-taught artist shared that he did but stressed that cubist techniques can’t really be instructed formally. “Cubist artists—they have more creativity and individuality.”
In his rendition of Cubism, the artist begins with a series of earth-tone pieces that resemble early textbook cubism. The subject of the portraits revolves around his family’s spiritual beliefs, from Hindu gods to various forms of Buddhas. In the latter half, more colours and geometric shapes are highlighted, layered up in an image of Thai mythical giants. The whole Cubism experience of Demian Factory provides a unique Eastern sensibility to the West-originated art form.
“An Artist’s Journey into Cubism” is open to visitors until November 13, 2022 at Creativbkk. No entry fee.
For more information, contact creativbkk.com or call 082-456-0199