PHUKET: In 2007 when Alongkorn ‘Kob’ Poochamchote was invited to be part of the prestigious art fair, the Florence Biannale , it was the proudest moment of his career. He was the first Thai artist ever to receive such an accolade. After all, this is where fine works of art are shown, admired and purchased.
50-year-old Alongkorn, who was born into a farming community in Nong Khai, knew from an early age that he wanted to become an artist despite his parents’ skepticism. To keep them happy, he dutifully studied for a degree in political science even though his heart was not in it.
After graduation, Alongkorn whiled away his time working for a restaurant in Bangkok, before being given an interior design project for a client in Phuket. The job was to have lasted six months but, having fallen in love with the island, he stayed on.
From his rented home in Kalim, this self-taught artist started to paint seriously while supporting himself through freelance interior and landscape design work. Soon his large and colorful abstract works began to attract attention from art lovers and collectors.
Alongkorn’s style is decidedly influenced by Abstract Expressionism made famous by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, among others. So it comes as a surprise to learn that Alongkorn is actually inspired by the old Impressionist masters. He says he admires Monet, Cézanne and Gauguin for their use of exuberant colors, and Van Gough for his story-telling drama.
In his work Alongkorn uses strong vibrant colors and his methods of dripping, splashing and whirling paints directly on his canvases is not dissimilar to the “action painting” of Pollock.
“I get very ‘dirty’ when I paint. It’s exhilarating and liberating at the same time. I guess this is because I am an introvert by nature and painting becomes a means to release my emotions and what’s inside me. That’s why all my paintings have evocative titles.” Indeed, the painting he chose to show at the Florence Biannale was a large (2 x 3 meter) work entitled “Colors of Season.”
His works are now in private collections worldwide, from Europe to the USA and Asia. Nearer to home, a Malaysian collector always buys up many paintings at a time to stock up his Kuala Lumpur gallery.
But painting will have to wait for now as Alongkorn is busy with his other enterprise – Lim’s restaurant.
A few years back, he teamed up with his Swiss business partner Daniel Bosshard and opened the stylish restaurant Lim’s on Kalim Beach. The restaurant, lovingly decorated by the artist himself, doubles up as a gallery space to showcase his work. The menu also features Alongkorn’s creativity and is based on many classic Thai dishes.
As always, presentation is key, as he reveals that: “Whether painting, cooking, or arranging flowers, [another of his favorite pastimes] it’s all about forms and putting things in space in ways that will create rhythm, lines, contrast in scale, textures, and pleasing colors. It’s all art but you may choose to call it sculpture or installation.”
Lim’s rightly earns its place as one of the top dining spots on Phuket, backed up by many reviews, which rave about its stylish interior and innovative cuisine.
Alongkorn still continues to paint, even if sporadically now, as he is interrupted by his many other lines of work. He says he will always paint, no matter what.
“I never stray far from painting. I may fulfill my creative urges and curiosity doing this and that, but painting will always be my life and soul,” says this artist of many talents.
About Thai Gallery
The individuals profiled in “Thai Gallery” are chosen on the basis of their contributions to Phuket as an international community, and, often, for having made those contributions through successful social and/or working relationships with foreigners. This implies some foreign language skills and an interest in interacting with different cultures. They are people who in our experience help make the lives of expats far more enjoyable here than might be the case without them.
— Nanthapa Pengkasem
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