Friday, June 20, 2008

Primitive Ilustrations: Monsters of the Mekong.

Fairly soon after I moved to Bangkok, I bought a set of watercolor paints with the idea to work on a few illustrations about the places and creatures that I encountered while exploring Southeast Asia. Finally, after living here for nearly ten months, I completed my first one. And whether it was having just finished reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, or the influence of Jess Gonacha of Treasuring - this painting ended up being all about fish.

Tropical rivers have always held a fascination for me, and few regions are as defined by their waterways as Southeast Asia. There's the muddy, empire strewn Chao Phraya; the life giving Tonle Sap; and of course, the monstrous, epic Mekong. Part of what makes these waterways so mysterious is the strange creatures that it conceals.

So, in simple stylized forms, I depicted some of my favorite aquatic creatures. In a style inspired by scientific murals (like the one at the Maputo Natural History Museum, pictured above) and the 'Freshwater Fish of Thailand' chart that I had in my classroom, I set them out to display their bizarre forms and shapes. The star of the piece is of course the star of the river itself, the Giant Mekong Catfish.


jess gonacha said...

oh my gosh, Xander, this is WONDERFUL!!! I LOVE it. You've stolen my sea creature-loving heart. :)

Robyn said...

Geez - you write, photograph ... and paint too? That illustration is wonderful (I'm a sucker for anything piscene). Where did you take the pic of the Cafe Mekong Fish sign, BTW?

Xander said...

Cafe Mekong Fish is in Luang Prabang. I photographed the sign on the way into town (after stepping off the slowboat) and forgot to go back and check the place out. -X

Prêt à Voyager said...

Another great use of your creative talents!


T.R. said...

He cooks, he writes, he photographs and now this! It's a stunning piece.

This post captures so much of the spirit of the place there. Beautiful!