Illusions on the footpath

lifestyle April 07, 2012 00:00

By Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul

3,862 Viewed

Street artists at the Chiang Mai Festival work their magic with chalk

Artists Melanie Stimmel Van Latum, Remco Van Latum and Lysa Ashley from the US and Tony Cuboliquido from Italy recently joined forces to create an epic 3D street painting on the theme of the environment around the northern city’s Three Kings Monument.

Also showcasing their art were Ruben Poncia from the Netherlands and Juandres Vera from Mexico.
Stimmel Van Latum, cuboliquido and Poncia dusted the chalk from their hands and took time out from their art to sit down for a chat at the Dusit D2’s Maxi restaurant. 
Describe your work in one word.
Ponica: Illusion. I think all arts and paintings are illusion. You put paint on the surface and people see an image. It’s still just paint so it’s not really there. 
Cuboliquido: Connection – with the audience, the environment and with art. It could also be “experience” – the description to my street painting.
Stimmel Van Latum: Whimsical. I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. So I think a lot of my work has a little bit of playfulness in it. I enjoy the type of art that appeals to kids.
How did you get into street painting?
Poncia: About five years ago, my friends were doing it. At one point they said, ‘You should also try it’. I did it and it was a good experience.
Cuboliquido: Four years ago, there was a street painting contest in my city. I entered the contest and I won the first time I tried street painting with chalk. I had 12 years’ experience painting on canvas. I went to another festival in the US and people sponsored my next trips to more festivals. I also serve on festival juries.
Stimmel Van Latum: By accident. I studied oil painting and after I graduated from art college, I started working as an animator for a television show called “South Park” and during a break, a friend invited me to a street painting festival. I joined the festival and I really loved it. After that I started applying to different events. 
What’s your favourite part about what you do?
Poncia: The finishing. First do your sketch and then you have to make the colours, and at the end you do the fine things. This is the best bit because you can make it really beautiful, really nice.
Cuboliquido: Share my art and interacting with people around me, both at home and overseas, like here in Thailand. That’s a chance I don’t often get with my more traditional art forms. I can get immediate feedback about my street painting works. It’s very nice.
Stimmel Van Latum: I love the idea of people being able to watch an artwork from the start to the  finish. They can take photos inside or outside the art. It is very interactive art form. It also makes me become part of the community and it’s inspiring for kids too. When I go to a new place, I often offer to run a workshop.
What’s your most memorable experience while painting?
Ponica: Last year in Florida, I did some very big drawings with a group that went viral on the Net. That was cool. The experience here is also great.
Cuboliquido: This experience. It’s a whole new work from Europe or the United States or my country. I like the culture, the food and the hospitality. 
Stimmel Van Latum: This one definitely because street painting has never been here before. In Europe, people have seen it before because it’s been in Italy for 500 years before. It’s beautiful for people to be able to experience for the first time and to create something special for the city that you are in. It’s very rewarding for the artists.
What themes do you explore in your painting?
Ponica: I like to create illusions that have not been done before.
Cuboliquido: It depends on the context of the festival or the exhibition. I like themes that concern everybody – like the environment. There’s usually a connection between my studio works and my street painting.
Stimmel Van Latum: I am inspired by Renaissance and Baroque arts. I would like to explore themes that stem from beautiful figures in an environment, or something a little more playful that would appeal to children. 
What’s about your painting in Thailand?
Ponica: Here I experimented by combining the wall and the ground. I also made the backgrounds to make it look real. 
Cuboliquido: The organisers told me they wanted something about environmental awareness. My painting has a big mouth about to swallow a floating pill. It’s a metaphor for Mother Air needing medicine.
Stimmel Van Latum: My first instinct was to paint something with elephants and waterfalls because I know you had flooding last year. We decided to combine the two so we have the waterfalls with elephants and the earth. People can sit on the elephants and be part of that environment.
What’s your advice to new street painters?
Poncia: If you already know how to draw, the main thing is to think of new ideas. Talent is important but it’s not the main secret of street painting. Good and interesting ideas are.
Cuboliquido: In Italy, when you say you want to study art, people say you are going to starve. My advice is that if you like doing art – whatever form it is – keep going. There’s no secret to this. You have to make things happen. Work and work and work. 
Stimmel Van Latum: When I first started street painting, I copied the artworks of the old masters like Rembrandt, Raphael and Rubens. By doing so, you really have to look at the original artwork. And to make it so big, you are really studying how that artist did it. So you learn a lot about the process.
What are your next projects?
Poncia: I’m off to Kuwait with three colleagues from the Netherlands for a project in a shopping mall. 
Cuboliquido: I have an exhibition for my studio work in August, I think and I will be going to a street painting exhibition in Europe this summer too.
Stimmel Van Latum: In July, my husband and I are taking eight artists with us to Israel to do eight street paintings in 3D.
Roll up
_ The Chiang Mai Fest ends tonight. Visit