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.

5 comments:

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!

Anne

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!