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Autor La Inthonkaew

La Inthonkaew

I would like to introduce to you the art of La Inthonkaew, an outsider and art brut painter.

La was born in a small village bordering on the jungle in central Thailand on August 20, 1981.  She is Thai but some of her ancestors came also from Burma, Laos and China.  Her father was a local shaman, her uncle was a locally venerated Buddhist monk famous for his miraculous powers, and the women in the family were traditionally midwives. 

She went to school for only four years, commuting from the family farm to the center of the village on the back of her favorite water buffalo.  Her father died when La was still very small and, on his deathbed, he chose her to be his successor in the family shamanic tradition – a legacy that she never really wanted to accept.  After the premature death of her father, her family disintegrated and, at the age of eleven, La found herself alone with two small brothers to take care of, becoming a hunter and gatherer in order to survive. 

Later, she went through a number of menial jobs, working, e.g. as a construction laborer, a cook, a cleaning lady, a masseuse and a beach parasol rental worker.  A mother of three, La gave birth to her first child when she was fifteen, and three years ago, she became a grandmother of twins.   She had a number of near-death experiences as a result of various accidents and in 2004, while visiting with her extended family in Phuket, she was swept by the tsunami, which almost killed her. 

La started painting at a very early age while she was still living in the Thai countryside, painting on any scrap of paper that she could lay her hands on with paints that she herself prepared using mud and flowers.  Fifteen years ago, she married a Czech man and moved to the Czech Republic.  She kept painting but for many years her husband threw away everything that she produced.  Lacking any interest in paintings produced by others, she never received any artistic education.  However, approximately seven years ago, upon suggestion from her new boyfriend, she started painting with oil on canvas and this has been her favorite medium of expression ever since. 

In addition to people, La enjoys painting animals, flowers and mushrooms, especially toadstools.  In her paintings, one can sometimes see echoes of her childhood spent in Thailand as well as occasional glipmses into the shamanic non-ordinary dimensions of reality.  Over the years, she has also painted quite a number of self-portraits. 

So far, five exhibitions of her work took place in Prague, Czech Republic, where she currently lives.

Ondřej Sekanina, 2017