Elina Melloul

multidisciplinary , writing

Printing by Doing

« I consider myself an art educator and an art maker rather than an artist ». This sentence have been said by Surachai Ekphalakorn, a contemporary artist and a Professor in the department of Visual Arts, in the faculty of fine and applied Arts, at the Chualolgkorn University in Bangkok.
This passionate teacher dedicates his work to his students through art practise researches: Indeed, he has developed teaching theory in order to improve the quality of art classes in University. Because preparing his students to the art world is crucial for the future art scene of Thailand, more than just teaching and transmit knowledge, he would like to give them some human values.

Surachai Ekphalakorn participated to the exhibition Breathing on Paper, presented by ARCOLABS, a Center for art and community management, held at Art Mai Gallery in Chiang Mai from 1 November 2017 until 26 November 2017. Composed of five artists’ artwork, this exhibition is focused on various interpretations of paper in contemporary art.

Renowned as a printmaker artist, his artwork exhibits in Breathing On Paper reflects well his interest in the usage of Thai rice paper. Indeed, because this material is local and eco-friendly, its matches with the artist’s principles.
One of his main artwork is the work on a metal plate, etch with the help of an acid preparation and then, ink it. By this printmaking technic, the artist obtains different type of art, often inspired by great artwork as the great wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai or La rivière by Maillol.

La rivière by Maillol                        Artwork of Surachai Ekphalakorn


For this exhibition, the artists presents different experimentations born from one single support, an etching metal plates abandoned by his students in his printmaker studio.

He prints the plates in various colours and adds for some, objects from his daily life such as Korean coffee bag. By this work, the artist wants to highlight different issues of the society:

First, educational issue is one of the main subjects of its artwork: indeed, he wants to express his idea about what teaching should be. Even though he considers that leaning theory is essential for new initiative “theory is just like a map”, the experience is the key to truly improve our intellectual capacities. He uses John Dewey’s theory “learning by doing” as an inspiration for his practise. School should be a way to understand better the reality around us, and to learn about our mistakes instead of condemns them.

Through experimentation, he wants to explain to his student that using only one material cannot limit the expression of his art. This concept is an interesting metaphor about life’s style: indeed, even if only one way, one path, seems possible in life, we need to look beyond this first perception: we always have the capacity to choose where we want to go and what we want to do. Our destiny is the outcome of our choices: the paths of life are limitless like the artworks of Surachai. As the artist said: “Human being can only survive by experience”.

Secondly, because most of the materials used for his artwork are recycling, the artist invites his students to think about the importance of the environment’s protection. His artwork is the outcome of his own reflexion about “how art can benefits humanity in term of environmental issues especially through recycling?” On the one hand, the artist can use their art in order to raise people awareness about environmental issues. On the other hand, artists can act themselves by using recycling materials in order to protect environment.

One of his last projects is also linked to these issues. The teacher created a student’s project where the main goal was to use art to elevate the quality of life in a slum located in Nang Loeng in Bangkok. The students organized every weekend art’s activities in order to raise people awareness about these fundamental issues. As Surachai said: “art can really be used to make life better for those involved”.

Last, but not least, this artwork is also a way to create social link between the teacher and his students. More than just a professional relationship, Surachai really wants to inspire them, by showing that every one can be successful in his life as long as it keep trying until some results appear. However, even though his art is mostly dedicated to his students, it also allows him to discover who he is and what he is capable of: “it is a way for me to perceive the outside world in order to understand my inner self”.

Because art is the translation of what human beings feel, hear, listen, and want to transmit to the next generations, for him “to promote art is to promote humanity”.

Elina Melloul.


Nov 21, 2017

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About the writer …

Elina Melloul is a French intern in Chiang Mai Art Conversation. During these next couple months, she will write different reviews about cultural events in Chiang Mai such as exhibitions, festivals, art books, and create some videos, which present the work of different artists. 

As a student in political sciences, she does not have any professional skills about art.  However, in these reviews, she will provide a sociological analysis about art’s world. Through her works, she will try to explain the different art projects, which compose the art scene of Chiang Mai.

Let’s discover what can offer “the cultural town of Thailand” for the art lover.

If you are an artist and if you are interested in having a review about your work, please contact her.

e-mail: [email protected]