People have found new ways to express their dissatisfaction and discontent with politics and leaders through illustrations and vibrant colors in murals or paintings. In Thailand, young budding artists have found creative ways to voice their concerns about sociopolitics. They have learned to express profound messages about social and political issues through their art.
Saratta Chuengsatiansup, an artist, has created Uninspired by Current Events, a Facebook page, to put his thoughts into rendered images about the ongoing events in Thailand. This is his way to vent out all his angst from the whole situation of staying home and reading depressing headlines. “So the whole one-picture-a-day (content) was born because there’s something new every day to scream about.”
Political satire is on the rise in Thailand. This comes after the government’s crackdown on activists and protesters who criticized the monarchy. Thai authorities have arrested at least 240 people over the past three years for criticizing the country’s royal family. The country has also seen anti-government protests against the then Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government and the COVID-19 pandemic.
To avoid the authorities while expressing discontent with the government, people have taken to art. Saratta uses 3D imaging to create illustrations within 15 minutes. He uses his talent and skills to make witty images mimicking everyday political issues. One of his highly acclaimed work is cups of chocolate-mint iced concoction, associated with the Pheu Thai party, alongside a military tank at the same table. This beverage has now become a symbol of deep political divisions.
Chanaradee Chatrakul Na Ayudhya, also called Phaan, who goes by the alias ‘Juli Baker and Summer’, became the activist kind of artist, thanks to the pro-democracy movement that sparked political tensions in Thailand in 2020. “I feel like this is the only tool that I can use to support the movement, and I know that I’m good at it. I also believe in the power of art because we all know that in world history, for every moment that happens in this world, art has always been part of it.”
Another artist shared he doesn’t really put captions or descriptions to his work. He wants people to reflect on the artwork and let it speak back to the audience.