Interview with Aof Smith for “Irrepressible Summer Melody” | Exhibition on view August 6 – August 27th, 2022

Thinkspace is pleased to present Thai artist Aof Smith showing new works in his exhibition “Irrepressible Summer Melody.”

Aof Smith illustrates characters that appear inside “human consciousness, boiled with rage and conflicts.” Through the works, Smith explores how “the sound of the violence echoes like the rhythm of the war that gradually erupted quietly in small areas everywhere. “

Our interview with Aof Smith discusses the elements of Greg Carola Simkins and Ron English’s work that inspire him, mindfulness, and diving deeper to expand one’s perspective.

For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Hi, I am Aof Smith. I was born in Nakhon Si Thammarat which is the southern province of Thailand. I am familiar with art since childhood through a family member that studied fine art, including my father, brother, and sister. My father always teaches me, and he is my main inspiration. My both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are major in Visual Art. I have had a passion for Lowbrow art since schooling. For over twelve years I worked as an artist, and I currently live in Bangkok with my wife Fay and a cat named Numchok which means Lucky. 

What was the inspiration behind this latest body of work? What themes were you exploring?

I believe that under the ideas of the current society pictures from the media that had been released shows the lives of people living in a normal world. The areas that are seen are safe. But is that really safe? If we accept the truth the sound of the violence echoes like the rhythm of the war that gradually erupted quietly in small areas everywhere. 

“Sound” is one of our five senses which can trigger us to feel many emotions. The music played in the concert atmosphere always brings people to enjoy the rhythm and sound of different musical instruments playing together. If only we could acknowledge that somewhere in this little world, there are people who are triggered by the sound of rage, aggression, and conflicts which construct the uproarious melody of war, parallel with the Sound of music played in the concert and within human consciousness.

In this series, I created characters that appear inside human consciousness, boiled with rage and conflicts. Revealing through the performance together with the sound of music represents the acts of violence people usually do which are the root cause of endless wars of humankind. 

What was the most challenging piece in this exhibition? How did it help you grow as an artist?

All exhibitions are always a challenge for me. Because they all need proper planning to have a group of works complete within the time limit. I want to create quality works in order to communicate my idea of ​​the series as accurately as possible. I imagine of an absolute exhibition and want to make sure it is as good as it should be. This time working with my favorite gallery, reinforces my career as an artist, and it can inspire the next generation to work in a way that they like to have the world appreciate. 

What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?

My day starts with waking up around 9 am. Collect cat dirt, feed the cat, drink coffee/breakfast, take a shower and be at my studio around 10 am. Starting with new sketches for about an hour a day. After that, I continue with my oil painting until 4:00 p.m. and took a break to cook for my wife. We have dinner and spend the evening time together. I started to work again in my studio around 9 pm, continuing until 4 am on another day. I love to work in the quite night by myself. 

Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?

I believe in the consequences of action, like Buddhist teachings that often say, “Be good, receive good. Be evil, receive evil,” and with that we keep an eye on our own minds, remembering what we are doing. Live in the present to keep us sane. Mindfulness is important to help me think, analyze, realize, and keep myself in the right place. No less and not too much, just enough to live. My creative thoughts mostly came from my life experience.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of the creative process?

I like every creative process because every moment has allowed me to create something new for myself. It excites me. I am eager to get it done as the picture shown in my mind. 

You’ve shared that Ron English and Greg Carola Simkins have been creative influences. What elements of their work resonated with you? Do you have a favorite piece from the artists?

I like Ron’s work in terms of ideas on presenting his works in a comparative way, showing society in an ironic manner. Satire, wicked comedy. In terms of visuals, the use of opposite color structures altogether in each piece is remarkable. It excites me every time I see his work. My favorite work is “Ron and Cows.” 

For Greg’s, I like his interest in animals, which is a key element in the concept, since he liked to watch animal documentaries and had a bond with animals from childhood. By tying the story of animals through new characters he created, made many of his works look amazingly realistic in the lands he created. My favorite of Greg’s piece is “The Escape Artist, 2018.” 

Do your paintings provide a catharsis for processing the cruel negative torment in the world? Or do you have other practices that allow you to move through those truths of human existence?

I want to show the vivid and lively character in the first look of my painting. However, by taking more time to stare and consider the content, there are more messages hiding. I think this is same with everything in the world; if people are attracting by superficially, they will only enjoy what they saw. But those who question and take a deep understanding will see more perspective in the same picture. 

What are three elements of Thai culture you think more people should be aware of?

  1. The love for their root. 
  2. The respect for other, a person is free but limited to not dishonoring other. 
  3. Peace.

If you could have any skill or topic downloaded into your brain, what would you want to be able to do/ be an expert at?

I wish I could create the work as quickly as my thoughts; the image shown in my mind usually take quite a time physically. 

The ‘Irrepressible Summer Melody opens on August 6th with a reception from 6 PM to 10 PM.

It will remain on view until August 27th at Thinkspace Projects

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