Unique gift for Asean leaders

October 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Related Interests

An impressive picture book on the Asean region will be Thailand’s parting gift as it vacates the association’s chair

“Linking people with arts will help them appreciate and be proud of the closeness of one’s community,” said Vitavas Srivihok, director-general of the Asean Affairs Department at the Foreign Ministry. His words later inspired the birth of an artistic book entitled Asean: Portrait of a Community which will be presented as a special gift to the 10 Asean leaders at this year’s final Asean gathering this month in Cha-am/Hua Hin. What makes this book unique is the compilation of sketch drawings of all Asean leaders, as well as the top tourist attractions of the region. The livelihoods of the Asean peoples are portrayed in the natural flow of water colours. The project took shape in June after an exchange of ideas during a friendly chat between Mr Vitavas and artist Taveepong Limapornvanich. “The ministry thought it should have a surprise gift for the leaders. I’m sure it will be unlike anything they have

previously received from other countries,” Mr Vitavas told the Bangkok Post. But to complete the book was quite a challenge for Mr Taveepong. “It took me two full months to sketch about 150 pictures from the 10 Asean countries. “Every day, I spent about 18 hours on average drawing about two pictures. I would start around 3pm to 4pm and finish by about 6am the next day,” he said. In addition to the book, 10 large-size smiling portraits of the leaders, which took him more than 10 hours each to finish, will be displayed at the Asean summit. “Although some of the leaders were not smiling in the originals, I painted them wearing a beaming smile,” he said. He said Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s portrait was the most difficult to draw because he looked different in different poses – sometimes rather bloated, other times thin. “But the painting of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak came out the best,” said Mr Taveepong. Mr Vitavas is particularly impressed by the pictures of the 10 Asean leaders shaking hands with Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan. To him, they looked so real. Another major challenge was which distinctive tourist landmarks should be chosen from each member state for the book. In Indonesia and Thailand, there are simply too many attractions to choose from. “Since each country was afforded only six pages or 18 prominent tourist sites for entry into the book, I needed to do a lot of thinking and research before finalising the list,” said Mr Taveepong. “I included the places which I thought would make the leaders realise that the Thais did know quite a bit about their neighbouring countries.” “About 40% of the pictures used as samples for the drawings came from my own album, the pictures I took when I travelled to those countries,” he said. Mr Vitavas said: “I am impressed that he was able to capture the diversity of each country and the common culture depicted in the book, such as the pictures of dancing girls or the type of trishaws running in the streets of Asean countries.” “In the trishaw pictures, all Asean nations have their own style of trishaws, except Brunei, which uses a boat instead,” he said. Mr Taveepong thought Malaysia provided an ideal country for the drawing. “I studied in Malaysia for two years and that made me feel accustomed to its culture and architecture, especially with what I saw in Penang,” he said. Brunei and Burma are the only two Asean countries Mr Taveepong has never visited. Unlike the other water-colour drawings in the book, the sacred Shwedagon Pagoda of Burma needed to be done twice. He said he needed to do this because it was difficult to tell the foreground from the background in the sample picture. There are also many smaller pagodas around the main one, said Mr Taveepong. “I have not made the paintings of one country inferior or better than the other countries. If I felt that they needed to look better, I reworked them.” “I believe that when the leaders open this book, they will be surprised at how the Thais came to know about these places [as some are not common tourist spots],” the artist said. In the past 40 years, no Asean country has done anything like this. It will be evidence for people to remember Thailand as the chair of Asean this year, he said. Mr Vitavas hopes this artistic masterpiece will help Asean to become better known among its own people and around the world. “The pillar of socio-culture under the Asean Charter should be improved as it would be a linkage of the people and this book will be a good gateway,” he said. Both Mr Vitavas and Mr Taveepong believe that many countries would be surprised at how resilient Thai people are in the face of ongoing political instability in the country, which is now being expressed through art. The drawings are now on display for the public at Siam Paragon shopping mall until tomorrow, after which the exhibition will be moved to CentralWorld from October 5-8. After that, all the pictures would be put on display at the meeting venue at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Cha-am/Hua Hin in order to allow all Asean leaders to appreciate their portraits on their way to the meeting room.

SOURCE : http://bangkokpost.com/news/local/24964/unique-gift-for-asean-leaders

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