Following her passion

Isariyabhorn Wanmarat and her debut solo exhibition ‘BlueBlurryMonday’. (Photos: Somchai Poomlard)

Many people track their life experiences by writing in a diary. As an artist, Isariyabhorn Wanmarat captures moments of her life by snapping photos, taking notes and drawing images with coloured pencils. From her visual diary, Isariyabhorn developed and selected 21 paintings to showcase at her debut solo exhibition “BlueBlurryMonday”, which is also her pseudonym. Many of the paintings in the exhibition are memorable moments of her travels in Taipei with her friends. Other paintings include her trip to Nakhon Nayok, her daily life in Satun where she lives and two paintings from scenes in award-winning movies Parasite and Call Me By Your Name.

“When I see something I like, I usually take photos of it. It does not have to be something significant. I also write notes at that moment in time. When I reread the note later and it touches a chord in me, I paint that photo. The painting Curious Cat was from a moment when I saw my cat staring at something for a long time and I felt it was cute. My painting does not have to be realistic. I adapt the image to suit my style and use shades or tones of colours I like,” explained Isariyabhorn.

The paintings by Isariyabhorn are finely detailed with impressive landscape scenes. The curator at Kalwit Studio & Gallery, Kit Chirachaisakul, said he decided to showcase paintings by Isariyabhorn because coloured pencil paintings are rare.

“We rarely see artists who use coloured pencils as their medium. Isariyabhorn’s paintings seem to express innocence, yet they are contemporary. At Kalwit, we exhibit many intense works with meanings but ‘BlueBlurryMonday’ is sincere and conveys how the artist feels through coloured pencils. Isariyabhorn is excellent at creating an atmosphere in paintings, whether they are landscapes or architecture. The atmosphere is gentle and soft. The artist works hard as she colours each line one by one,” the curator said.

The 25-year-old artist started painting with coloured pencils when she had to work on her thesis during her fifth year at the Faculty of Architecture, Kasetsart University. Isariyabhorn felt stressed working on the thesis, so she relaxed by drawing.

Curious Cat was inspired by Isariyabhorn’s pet.

“I can draw in any kind of medium, but I like coloured pencils the most because they are easy to carry. The colour from pencils give a childlike feeling and softens the subject matter. The charm of coloured pencil is its lines which other colour mediums do not have,” the artist said.

Isariyabhorn initially painted images of K-pop artists and later expanded to paint images of her surroundings. Also, her hobbies of reading and watching movies are her inspiration. Two intriguing paintings — Parasite: The Parallel and Call Me By Your Name Vibes — were inspired by the two critically acclaimed movies. While Parasite: The Parallel depicts the architecture in South Korean upper and lower-class environments, Call Me By Your Name Vibes portrays interior images of the Italian villa in the movie. Some people may say painting scenes from movies is not art, but Isariyabhorn believes that her work is art.

“Parasite: The Parallel depicts inequality in Korean society. It is art because it is not a copy of the movie scene. I intended to compare scenes of two different societies. In the movie, Call Me By Your Name, a 17th-century Italian villa is the main focus which adds to the emotional impact of the movie, so I drew interior scenes of the villa. Art can be anything. It depends on whether people appreciate and accept it as art,” said Isariyabhorn.

“Everything is art and movies are also art. The artist drew scenes from the movie, so it is a crossover from one kind of art to another. The exhibition’s concept revolves around the artist’s visual diary writing. It can be conceptual art, but she expresses her stories sincerely and in a straightforward way,” Kit added.

Last year, one of Isariyabhorn’s paintings was selected by Pop Up Asia x Happening Maker to be exhibited at the Taipei 101 Building in Taiwan. Isariyabhorn said she participated in the competition because she is fond of Taiwan.

A 17th-century Italian villa is the main focus of Call Me By Your Name.

“Taiwan is similar to Thailand, but it is a better version of Thailand. When I was in Taipei, I found people there were so friendly and helpful. There were many ‘selected shops’ that sold art-related items. I felt that people in Taipei valued art and that made it an interesting place. I participated in the competition arranged by Pop Up Asia x Happening Maker because I like Taiwan. At that time, I worked on a painting where I used gouache colour for the first time. It was fun and that painting was inspired by trying other kinds of paints,” said Isariyabhorn.

Isariyabhorn earned her bachelor’s degree in architecture but does not work in that field. However, she said many skills that she learned in university are still useful.

“I learned how to come up with a concept and how to work on it step by step. When I am at a venue, I observe its functions and how people manage the venue. When I was in Taipei, I realised its urban planning is excellent. Public transportation is convenient and many green spaces are included in the planning. This helps people walk outside,” she said.

“When I was at different parks in Taipei, I noticed that bushes and trees were different. In a park next to a temple, bushes and trees were shaped to look neat, so people can feel peace of mind. However, trees in other parks looked more free form,” the artist said.

Parasite: The Parallel aims to compare upper and lower-class environments in South Korea.

In order to make a living, Isariyabhorn works several jobs such as graphic designer and is planning to open a cocoa shop. The artist accepted working in the art industry is not easy.

“People look at art as luxurious items. Many Thais appreciate art, but basic needs are their first priority. It is difficult to start a career since artists have to make a name for themselves by themselves before people hire them to create art,” Isariyabhorn explained.

The young artist was worried when Kalwit Gallery contacted her to hold her debut exhibition. However, after the event’s launch, she is happy with the results.

“I was worried about the number of visitors, but after seeing the exhibition, I am happy with the scale of the gallery. The medium size of Kalwit Gallery suited my works. I am glad that the exhibition is being held there. Everything has been positive. I just want everything to run smoothly,” said Isariyabhorn.

“I hope that her fans will visit the exhibition and other people will get to know more about her from the exhibition. Isariyabhorn does not study fine art or painting, but she works hard on it. Anyone can be an artist if they truly want to and work at it,” concluded Kit.

Many of the paintings are from Isariyabhorn Wanmarat’s travels in Taipei.