Chayanin Kwangkaew regards the word melange as an apt descriptor of this era of existence. Defined as “a mixture of often incongruous elements”, a melange can be a visual representation of a plural and diverse world. 

This idea is depicted in Kwangkaew’s paintings of bright splashes of color and collections of seemingly unrelated objects. Some are natural, others fabricated; there are fragments of a traditional still life, and shards of futuristic shapes. Photorealistic details are layered over graphic patterns. The images are painted like cutouts collaged together, culled from a multitude of sources. 

The artist pursues this idea of opposites and multiplicity, melding together the abstracted and the figurative, dynamic shapes and movement amidst still life, calm and chaos, and even medium, using both oil paint and acrylic—oil and water. He balances empty space and detail equally on the picture plane. 

Kwangkaew muses on how these contradictions are present in the physical world. The world operates on logic but also chance, reason but also mystery. Noise punctures the still atmosphere. Man-made structures are full of parallel lines and boxes that police the space—straight walls, perpendicular corners, and edges of floor tiles that create a grid. Within and around are the chaotic, amorphous shapes of life. 

The artist postulates that wisdom and understanding come from making connections amidst this—drawing a line through the disparate elements, pondering on the meaning of the fragments, matching new data with old experiences. It fills the cracks between the shapes. He calls on language—the process of assigning words and therefore associations, labels, and names, in order to make meaning and form a thought. Disconnection forces one to connect the dots, grasp at a line. Perhaps then one may arrive at a reason, an emotion, an explanation, or simply an acceptance of the unknown. 

Ordinary Soul finds calm in this acceptance. It submits to the paradoxical, to both knowing and not knowing, reality and unreality. It allows both simple existence and change. It creates a venue where one can coexist with one’s antithesis. It immerses the viewer in a kaleidoscope, where a simple twist can yield a different point of view, a mere suggestion takes the mind to a different line of thought. It makes the mundane seem magical, the wondrous ingrained in daily life. Kwangkaew finds the soul within the ordinary. This is the artist’s philosophy in both living and in creating art—to continue in the process of understanding life itself. 

notes by Shireen Co