31 century museum around the world


Language : ENGLISH : THAI

Two days ago, I was cycling around Ta Phae Road and I saw a huge sign hung in front of a shop with words written, ‘You cannot get lost, if you don’t care where you are.’ I was a bit curious, so I stop to have a look around the shop. There were postcards, paintings and lots of souvenirs for foreigners. Many of the postcards were hand painted with writings and interesting quotes like,

‘No ego, no cry.’

‘Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but is about dancing in the rain.’

‘Life Is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.’

‘The pessimist sees the hole, the optimist sees the doughnut.’

I was quite impressed with these quotes, so I wanted to have a chat with the person who made them. I interviewed and ask him whether he originally wrote them or got these quotes from somewhere else?

I got them from the things around me, from the people I’ve met and talked with, like you. Or sometimes, I got them from books.

How long have you been doing this?

-About 30 years now.

And what is it that you are doing?

-I have no clue. I only know that I’m happy doing it.

Are you making art or commercial art?

-I don’t know. I haven’t studied art. I’m just happy doing what I do, I didn’t think anything much.

Then, what is the message that you want to communicate with the people who come to buy or see your work?

-I don’t know how to explain it. I do what I do without thinking complicated things, because I can’t do complicated things. It’s like someone who walks into the forest and sees the forest as it is. It’s up to each person to think what it is. These quotations I wrote has been in this world for a long time. If someone comes to buy my work, then I’ll sell it. If they don’t, I’ll just keep on working.

I turned and saw a piece of rock that was painted as Mount. Fujiyama, with Japanese calligraphy written on it. I find it very pretty, so I asked him what the words meant. He told me he got this rock when he went on a trip to Mount. Fuji with his girlfriend. They drew and wrote on this piece of rock together on the mountain. The meaning on the rock was, ‘you are my happiness, you are my sadness’, meaning; when you are happy, I am happy. When you are sad, I am sad too. I was very touched by this. I wanted to have the rock, but I dare not ask. This rock must mean a lot to him, and I would be intruding if I asked. But considering that this is a shop, and he stated earlier that all things in the shop are for sale, and that he does not intend to hoard anything. So I teasingly asked him,

Is this rock also for sale?

-I didn’t make it for selling, but if you want, you can take it.

I was confused, if it isn’t for sale, then how am I able to take it? Surely I will not take it for free.

-Well, it’s up to how much you want to pay for it.

I can’t help myself from wanting to understand more, so I asked,

How can you sell something like this? Doesn’t it deplore you?

-If it makes someone happy, then they can have it. As for me, I still have the chance to find happiness like this again.

I didn’t press on. We changed the conversation and talked about his daily life and experiences. While we were talking, I noticed a small painting stuck on the wall beside his working table. It is a postcard with a picture of red circle drawn like his face painted on it. Underneath the circle wrote, ‘In a world full of compromise, artist don’t.’ I asked about the meaning, in which he answered that people can bargain or compromise with anything, but please don’t pressure artists. Because artists are free. In that moment, I was very moved as an artist, because this word reminded me of my experiences in the past. It was about finding the true meaning of art and the value of life. I’ve experienced a lot of compromising and have been pressured about my thoughts, belief and ideals from the society and the people around me. They do not understand the purpose or sincerity in making art. Every pace in my life, I have always been compromising with myself. It was right then, when a question aroused in me, that maybe, I still am not a true artist. For my soul has not yet been freed from creating, compromising and pressure. My art has not yet combine into one with life, as this man does. In that particular moment, it was truly elation for me to have come and known this man…the anonymous artist.

p.s. He insisted that I will not give out his name in public, and I respect this request. I thank him for making me understand the value of creating, and of how being an artist could exist in a common, ordinary man. How it has always existed in our daily lives, something that all of us understands, but has never reached that specialness in the ordinary.

About a week later, I was still thinking about my meeting with him, and how it moved me. I wanted to share this experience in the www.31century.org website, so I went back to ask his permission for releasing this article. He agreed to my request and we chatted. He showed me the second storey of his house, where I saw a book with ‘Energies in Fusion’ written on the cover. The book was painted and written by him and his Japanese girlfriend. It was a collaborated work, both of them swapped roles to write and paint together. This book was made about 10 years ago.

He opened and showed me the book. It is neatly wrapped in plastic sheet; I can clearly feel that this book was handled with special care. He started to explain to me the meaning and stories behind each writings that were written in both Japanese and English.

‘I want to do to you what spring does to the Sakura tree.’

This made me all the more impressed. Then I noticed the price tag for the book, which costs 200,000 Baht. So I asked him, once again, whether this book is available for purchase. He replied, yes…

In my heart, I started to wonder why was he able to sell it. This book must mean the world to him. I tried to imagine myself in his shoes. Yet, I would never sell it no matter what price was offered to me. So I asked him if I were to buy it, how much would he consider selling it to me?

“Any price that suits you and won’t be troubling you. I understand very well that the value of art cannot be judged by the value of its price.” He replied.

I questioned him further that “If the value of art isn’t judged by it’s price, then why are you able to sell and not feel at all sorry?” He simply replied, “I am almost 70 now, there’s no reason why I should keep all my stuff. In the end, I can’t take any of them with me anyway.”

Right then, I knew instinctively that this book would definitely be placed at the 31st Century Spirit Museum.

21 September 2012

Share Published on Sep 23, 2012 at 9:31 pm.
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