Subtext? or no-text?

Jirapat Tasanasomboon's "Superman and Rama's Struggle over Sita" (2002)
Jirapat Tasanasomboon’s “Superman and Rama’s Struggle over Sita” (2002)

Artist: Jirapat Tasanasomboon
Title: Superman and Rama’s Struggle over Sita
Technique: Acrylic on canvas
Size: 140 x 190 cm
Year: 2002

I had blogged about Jirapat Tasanasomboon at the old Mae Mai blog earlier last year. He has since completed a few other paintings. Though this one above is an older painting I thought that this it was interesting and needed no commentary.

Jirapat Tasanasomboon was born in 1971 in Samut Prakarn and completed his Master Degree from Silapakorn University in 1999. He applies a pop-art style to his subjects who often feature well known (super)heroes from cartoons such as Batman, Superman and Spiderman as well as science fiction movies. His heroes are depicted in a distinctive Thai setting and are often seen interacting with traditional Thai heroes and mythical figures, most of whom are characters in the Ramakien (Ramayana). It might be seen as an indicator of the complex relationship between Thailand and one of its closest allies. Sometimes a loving relationship, but at other times struggling. Jirapat has participated in several art shows in Thailand and also in Korea (2003).

Jirapat Tasanasomboon

As some of you may already know, I am a legal permanent resident of the United States but not a citizen. Thailand is still a Kingdom, if only a constitutional monarchy. All the monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty of Thailand are named after Rama including His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (King Rama IX). There’s more to Rama than Grant Morrison.

Related Links:
The Oral Tradition and the Many “Ramayanas”, by Philip Lutgendorf.
The Poetics of the Ramakian, by Dr. Theodora H. Bofman
Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia, ed. by Paula Richman.

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filed under: Asia; Southeast Asia; Thailand; Jirapat Tasanasomboon; Rama; Sita; Superman; art

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2 thoughts on “Subtext? or no-text?

    1. The remarkable thing about the Thai version of this epic is that the “heroes” and “villains” aren’t always particularly heroic or evil. Rama’s treatment of Sita after her abduction by Totsogan is often viewed as very unbecoming of a hero, and some of Totsogan’s portrayal almost makes him a tragic heroic figure (in that Western dramatic sense).

      Not that figures in many European/Western epics are portrayed unambiguously, of course, but the clear delineation between “good” and “evil” isn’t as pronounced in the Thai version of the epic. I’m not sure if that applies as much to the original Indian version (or versions) of the story.

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