“My name is Akkpoup Prukpeeti but everyone calls me “Noi,” my nickname. I was born on 23 February 1969 in the province of Prachuapkeereekan in southern Thailand.
“I’m the youngest of 11 children. My father was Chinese and my mother is half Chinese half Thai. During World War 2, life was very hard in China. Many Chinese people migrated all over the world to escape the atrocities of war and find a better life. Many came to Thailand.
“Originally from Sichuan, my father escaped with his brother when they were both only teenagers. They arrived in Thailand and started to earn a living with whatever labor jobs they could land. His brother passed away while still a teenager. My father was very sad about this loss as he was his only relative at that time. My father was 79 year old when he passed away in 2002.
“My father was a farmer. He took care of the rice field, he planted trees and vegetables while my mother ran a grocery shop with my brothers and sisters. My mother also took care of us and helped my father whenever she had time. My eldest brother was actually the one who took care of the grocery. As the eldest brother he had to support us all. We owe him and my parents a lot.
“I was very close with my mother when I was young. After school, I would help her and my brothers prepare the grocery stuffs people ordered. After that I would help her with the vegetable garden. The next day I would then deliver to the buyers at five in the morning.
“None of my siblings were interested in art. Some became government officers, some ran their own business. I’m the only one who entered the world of art. It started when I was 9 years old. I was always happy doing all kinds of artistic or handicraft works. I enjoyed building objects with clay or any other materials.
“It would make sculptures, dolls, ashtrays etc for hours without getting bored. I couldn’t craft at home because I had so many other chores with the grocery, the garden and our home. Crafting at home would have made me happy but it was just not possible.
“One of my art teachers noticed my drawing skills. He was very supportive and encouraged me to study art further. However, my parents and my siblings weren’t supportive. They couldn’t see how art would put food on one’s table. One of my sisters simply couldn’t understand the concept of me doing something that wouldn’t bring any money to me. As many down-to-earth and practical people, they didn’t see the use or the meaning of art. But I didn’t listen and went further with my studying art anyway.
“I majored in sculpture and worked several places after getting my bachelor degree. For a year I designed patterns and motifs for an apparel company. Next, I worked in a ceramic factory. I ended up working in the audiovisual education section of a government hospital in Bangkok for 2 years.
“One of my oldest friends proposed me and other friends to paint with him in a temple in Kanchanaburi province. Off we went. Things were going quite well and we continued painting in a few temples. Then my friend collected the last payment for us all and suddenly vanished. I had nothing left except a small camera which I sold to buy a bus ticket to Bangkok.
“There, I enrolled in the Royal Pages School where I studied stucco for a year. With this specialized knowledge, I got to work on my own. I got several stucco works from temples and ended hiring 12 people. We worked in Bangkok and other provinces. Things seemed to go pretty well and I got married when I was 27 years old. My son was born 2 years later, just when the economic crisis hit Thailand In 1998.
“Before having my own family I often went out with my friends. After the birth of my son, I stopped all kind of activities that would take my time away from my family. During the crisis, I had to work for a company that paid me a salary for a year. When the economy got better, I got into the wax sculpture business and got a lot of work. My daughter was born a few years later just when I started painting murals for temples again.
“During that time, following this difficult crisis, I was only focusing on working. I’m not sure why … it might be because I wanted to bring security to my family. I wanted them to feel secure and not worry about money. I wasn’t aware that my work kept me away from my family most of the time. Before I was able to do anything about it, the relationship between me and my wife was over.
“This separation made me feel sad and down. I didn’t know what to do with my life for quite some time. I would have never thought that this could happen to us. All I always planned for was to have a happy family. This sentiment was very strong as I never really felt warmth as a child. I never felt close to my father. Regardless, I don’t know why I let this happen.
“This occurred at a time when I planned to paint artistic works. I had bought a piece of land in my hometown, where I planted rubber trees years ago. I thought to go back to live there with my family, taking care of the plantation and sell the rubber. I planned to do this and paint in my spare time. However, I moved to live in Chiang Mai province in 2009 with my son. Here I can work with my friends on works we love and we can also support each other.
“Working in temples taught me a lot. All the objects that shape and decorate temples and Buddha images are just brick, wood and cement. However, people worship them regardless. Perhaps it’s also got to do with all the artists who created these objects, putting all their beliefs, dedication and worship into them? As one of these artists myself, it is inspiring. I always do my best to create the best religious objects possible.
“I still have to do all sorts of artistic works to earn a living. But this still allows me to create works I love in general. I paint what I feel deeply inside. I use my skills to best present what is in my mind and heart. I paint the beauty of the landscapes and of all the objects that surround us. I put in them the serenity and beliefs of Buddhism. Thus, I hope the art enthusiasts will find meaning in my works, and that this will give them somehow a bit of happiness.”
Browse Akkpoup’s paintings.
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Text by EZISTOCK © Ezistock Co., Ltd., 2012 – All Rights Reserved.
Image ‘Akkpoup Prukpeeti’ by EZISTOCK © Ezistock Co., Ltd., – All Rights Reserved.
Other images by Akkpoup Prukpeeti © Akkpoup Prukpeeti – All Rights Reserved.
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