For immediate release
Thai artist Mitree Parahom transforms the interiors of award-winning Bangkok restaurant EAT ME with pastoral murals of Isaan life
Bangkok, 19 October 2023 – Renowned Bangkok restaurant EAT ME, in partnership with Thai artist Mitree Parahom, welcomes diners and art lovers to experience the vibrant countryside life of Issan with the artist’s new installation, “The Morlam Mural – Isaan Dance.”
The completed installation, which the artist has been creating for weeks on-site at EAT ME, enchants viewers with bold-coloured murals of bucolic countryside scenes from his homeland in Thailand’s Isaan region. The murals span the second-floor dining room and the more intimate third-floor dining space.
Srisaket-born artist Mitree, who usually works in his studio near Nong Pah Pong temple in Ubon Ratchathani, brings colourful, larger-than-life scenes of Isaan farmers to life on the restaurant’s walls. In one vignette, two farmers’ arms are high in the air, hands gestured in dance, celebrating the rice harvest. Throughout, the artist adds graceful details, such as touches of betel leaf-stained lips on bronzed farmers and iridescent-green rice being transplanted in the paddies.
The title of the installation – “The Morlan Mural – Isaan Dance” – refers to the distinctive style of music known as Mor lam, a conversational style of singing, vocal leaps, and strong rhythmic accompaniments born in the rice fields of the Isaan region and the ancient musical traditions of the Mon-Khmer peoples.
“People in these paintings are mostly family and neighbours,” Mitree explains. “All the rice in the paintings shows how abundant it is in my homeland during the harvest period. Cultivating rice is the main event for Isaan people. It’s central to every activity, and the focus of my installation.”
“My work is modern Isaan contemporary art, and the style is folk art, which tells the story of Isaan culture and everyday life,” Mitree continues. “My inspiration comes from my memories of the lifestyle in Isaan, where I live and spend most of my time, in Srisaket province.”
This isn’t the first time that EAT ME has shown the work of the 54-year-old farmer-cum-artist. The Chulalongkorn Art graduate, who has exhibited his artworks everywhere from Asia to Australia, London to New York, held his first show at EAT ME called ‘Up Country’ in 2004. But it’s the first time that Mitree has painted murals on EAT ME’s walls, and the first time that the artist has created an installation that could remain in place for at least a year – or longer.
EAT ME owners Darren and Cherie Hausler and Tim Butler, reflecting on Mitree’s murals and the restaurant’s long-standing reputation as a destination for both fine food and stimulating artwork, remark that the installation itself, and the open-ended plan for its residency on EAT ME’s walls, fit well with the restaurant’s ethos.
“We’ve held regular art exhibitions at EAT ME, in collaboration with H Gallery, almost since we first opened the restaurant 25 years ago,” Darren Hausler said. “But rather than hang, take down and re-hang new exhibitions every month or so, we’re slowing down, and we’d love our diners to take more time to absorb the details of the art, too. It aligns with our philosophy as a restaurant-bar, where our focus is on sustainable slow food and drink, and now, slow art,” he explained.
“We’re starting with Mitree’s murals, which depict a joyous, simple, slow life in Isaan, where things are done as they’ve always been done, a lifestyle that’s rapidly disappearing in increasingly urbanised parts of the world.” Darren elaborated. “We first showed Mitree’s canvases here 20 years ago. It seemed right that his beautiful pastoral scenes should be the installation that could stay up for years.”
Mitree is also happy with how his murals turned out. “I didn’t have any idea what I would do when I first saw the walls at EAT ME restaurant,” the artist admitted. “But the murals are way beyond my expectations.”
About EAT ME Restaurant
EAT ME’s award-winning cuisine is created by head chef Tim Butler, a New Yorker who fuses culinary influences from around the world; his dishes are characterised by daring flavour combinations and premium international ingredients. The Hauslers’ creative vision and warm hospitality combined with Butler’s modern global food, friendly staff, and inventive cocktails have made EAT ME RESTAURANT a much-loved destination for dining and art for a quarter of a century.
Art has been integral to EAT ME since Darren Hausler and his sister Cherie opened the restaurant 25 years ago. The siblings had been searching for a space to open an arty eatery in Bangkok when Darren found himself strolling Silom’s leafy Convent Road looking for a café with an exhibition he’d learnt about from an artist handing out postcards for his show. That painter would become the first artist whose work was shown at EAT ME.
Artist Mitree Parahom
Thai artist Mitree Parahom was born in Srisaket in 1969 in the lower Isaan region of Northeast Thailand. Having been raised on a farm in a pastoral community, Mitree Parahom describes himself as a ‘Thai Folkernative Artist’, integrating the spirit of folkways into his style of naïf art. The artist cites his father as the source of his inspiration and his mother as the provider, evident in his nature based work.
Mitree’s art captures scenes from his family’s farm, which he explores from every angle: cows chew on the cud, chickens scratch and squawk, and buffalos roam in the clove pastures. Explaining the imagery, Mitree writes that his artworks “present a holistic outlook on the correlation between nature and truth, consequent in a total picture of the Thai society in the times past.”
“Mitree Parahom’s intimate portrayals of Isaan people reveal the dignity, camaraderie, and humour of these upcountry farmers. Despite physical hardship and the uncertainty of nature, Mitree’s paintings convey his subject’s undeniable bond with the land,” says H Ernest Lee, former owner of H Gallery Bangkok and Mitree Parahom’s representative from 2003-2019.
Mitree’s work celebrates the farmers and workers of Thailand who predominantly come from Isaan. They are depicted as strong and powerful, underscoring their important contributions to Thailand.
See the artist’s website for more information, including a chronology of art exhibitions: https://www.mitreeparahom.com/
For more information, please contact:
TQPR Thailand, 02 260 5820