‘Some people asked me why I didn’t paint Lord Rama [Phra Ram from the Ramakien epic] green,” said 88-year-old Aree Soothipunt in his husky voice, pointing to his abstract painting from the late 70s of a blue-skinned Rama. “The literature never specified that he was green. Anyone who said he’s supposed to be green can walk off,” he quipped as his former students around him laughed.
Inside the secluded fourth floor exhibition space of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, Aree Soothipunt, National Artist mentor of countless art students and a pioneer of abstract painting in Thailand, was being shown around his first-ever solo exhibition called “Outside In”, created and dedicated to him by his former pupils.
For a respected artist and teacher, it’s surprising that this is Aree’s first solo show — at the age of 88. “My work is my students,” he said. It’s this unassuming attitude that perhaps delayed Aree’s long-overdue show.
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