Kraisak Choonhavan is a multi-dimensional person; though born in a military family, the son of former Prime Minister General Chatichai Choonhavan, he became a socialist with a love of freedom and human rights with his own ‘progressive’ ideas; always outspoken and resolute in action regardless of his professional capacity at any time: political science university lecturer, senator, member of parliament, advisor to the PM and advisor to the Governor of Bangkok. His is a loud and indispensable voice in the struggle for human rights, environmental justice, community rights and local wisdom. Few know that outside of politics, one of Kraisak’s most cherished dreams since a young man is to become an artist and create works of art. An accomplished guitar player, unsurprisingly he set up a rock band while at university in the US and studied drawing while at university in Paris before returning home to Thailand.
As elected senator of Korat province from 2000 - 2006, Kraisak’s life was overladen with meetings, most of them tedious and stressful. He relieved the tension by sketching caricatures of various politicians in parliament with his pen on meeting notepads. Many of these line-drawings are amusingly satirical. Soon he was inspired, with the aid of PhotoShop, to remove from photographs objects he didn’t wish to see, namely the eyesores or ‘visual obscenity’ of giant billboards that blot out the sky and the true horizon, eventually resulting in the series ‘Imagine the Sky’. Kraisak’s views of Bangkok is clearly of a far more harmonious, livable city than the real thing.
From 2014 onwards, confronted with cancer, Kraisak returned to drawing and painting for solace and relaxation. His work from this period, consisting of 3 fully-finished and signed paintings as well as a number of half-completed work, is extremely interesting. These creative works reflect the artist’s state of mind and emotion at a crucial moment.
Kraisak Choonhavan, born 8 October 1947, Bangkok. He earned a B.A. in International Relations, George Washington University, USA in 1974 and M.A. in Oriental Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London, UK in 1977.