symbolic use of the sacred Buddha image, especially the Buddha face, has been
his artistic oeuvre since 1980. Serene, sad, pensive or radiating compassion,
these Buddha images carry the artist's messages relating to the present crisis
of civilization. Panya believes this situation is a result of past action and
an unbalanced focus on the advance of science and technology geared to provide
material conveniences and luxuries in human life. This fostering of a craving
consumerist culture concerned with economic success has been to the detriment
of natural resources and spiritual development.
Panya doesn't want to preach
but wishes to prick the conscience and raise awareness of the confusion created
by the conflicting old and new ways and the ever-changing conditions of religion
and society. He promotes the 'truths' of harmony with nature and self-reliance,
and these fundamentals of Dhamma are the driving force in Panya's creations
as he attempts to find a new space for art and Buddhism.
Early in his career, Panya was
in a team of Silpakorn University art students working on the mural paintings
at Luang Por Rishi Ling Dum Temple in Uthai Thani. The abbot at that temple
wanted the artists to understand and experience the essence of what they were
to paint before embarking on the project, so he taught them manoyidhi meditation.
During this practice, Panya says he had a mystic experience in which he saw
Heaven and it appeared 'as a scene from traditional Thai art'.
A British Council scholarship
in 1982 enabled Panya to study at the Slade School of Fine Arts
at University College, London and to explore western culture for
three years. In 1985 to 1987, Panya led a team to decorate Buddha Padipa
Temple in Wimbledon, London, with neo-traditional murals which dealt
with the conventional subjects of the Three Worlds, the Birth of
the Buddha, Nirvana and the Defeat of Mara, but which incorporated
traditional motifs juxtaposed with modern-day media icons and images,
vivid colors and disturbing contradictions. The success of this
project led to further commissions to create the mural paintings
for the Thai Pavilion at Expo '88 in Brisbane and Expo '92 in Seville.
From 1995 to 1996, he was commissioned by the Siam Commercial Bank to
paint murals for the new Head Office and he also collaborated in
illustrating His Majesty the King of Thailand's book, "Mahajanaka".