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Karin Weber Gallery
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The Mekong Suite: Nocturne, Saffron Robes and other Junerains
by Karin Weber Gallery
Location: Karin Weber Gallery
Artist(s): Th├ęp THAVONSOUK
Date: 12 Sep - 3 Oct 2012

Thép Thavonsouk absorbs the Lao traditional aesthetics, depicts narrative elements of Buddhism, and possesses a deep understanding of both Asian and Western history. He achieves a subtlety of mood, a timelessness of place, a sense that nature is inherently fragile, and a spiritual stillness that embraces the viewer within a meditative moment. Being inspired by light and shadow, he is moved by striking moods in the clouds, vain and mist as well as a flow of monks’ saffron robes. There is a palpable hush of wonder with no fixed perspective in his works. His paintings grow out of silence; a dreamlike morphology suggesting tranquility and a sense of spirituality as figures dissolve into landscape. The fleeting passage of their quiet moments seen on his canvas and rice paper shines the light on the immensity of our universe and the insignificance of human beings.

‘Saffron Robes is part of an ongoing series of images which addresses the topic of Buddhism and the artist’s own experiences as a monk. One finds in Thavonsouk’s art a feeling of softness, achieved visually through undefined edges, and the merging of subject and background into seemingly single planes of space,’ said Catharine Mastin, Senior Curator of Art, Glenbow Museum.

About the artist

Thép Thavonsouk was born in Vientiane and grew up in French-occupied Laos.  He was educated at the Lycee de Vientiane in Laos, exposed to French and other European paintings.  After obtaining the Baccalaureat from the Lycee, he left Laos in 1967 when he was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship for St Lawrence University in Canton, New York where he studied and earned a degree in Diplomacy with a minor in Art.  Following his graduation and armed with eight languages, Thép aspired to become a diplomat for Laos and later to work for the United Nations. In 1972, three years before the end of the Vietnam War, Thép emigrated to Canada.  He taught French at the University of Lethbridge.  He also taught English as a Second Language to new Canadians to help them assimilate into the new life they have chosen in Canada. During these experiences there was something missing from Thép's life- What he really wanted to do was just to paint and become an artist.  He moved to Honolulu, Hawaii to start his art career in 1979.

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