Thep Thavonsouk was born in Laos to Mr. Phanh and Mrs. Khamsay Thavonsouk of Ban Hom, Vientaine. He told VOA that the love to draw and paint was instilled in him during his teenage years when he was exposed to French painting and literature in high school, the former Lycee de Vientiane. Back in those days, all he had was paper and pencil. Later his father bought him watercolors to advance his love of arts.
Thep came to the United Sates in 1967 under a Fulbright scholarship after graduating from the Lycee. He studied and earned a degree in Diplomacy at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, with a minor in Art. He has continued drawing and painting ever since. He said to be an artist is a life- long commitment.
"It's not an easy job. You need to complete your other
duties in life before you can pursue your art career. I've learned from many
different masters, Lao, Chinese, Japanese, French and English. I've been around
the world, I speak seven languages, I'm a teacher, a diplomat, a translator and
interpreter…I've done pretty much everything and because of this life-long
experience, I have become who I am as an artist today." The masters whose works
have helped Thep discover
his personal styles include: James Whistler, Turner, Roscoe and the true master of Impressionism, Monet.
Thep Thavonsouk's great works include: Saffron Robes, Lights and Shadows and many other paintings depicting the lives of Laotian people. One of his internationally recognized works is the June Rain series. Thep talked about what inspired him to paint the "June Rain" series: "I am a Laotian who grew up watching rain during June. I am now a Canadian citizen, currently living in Calgary; But I still do the same…watching rain in June. It's amazing… it is the same type of rain…it's no different whether I am in Laos or in Canada. June rain is the same to me, no matter where I live."
Thep Thavonsouk's June Rain series have been in exhibit in Canada and Singapore, among other places. Most recently, he opened an art gallery in Luang Prabang, called "Sai Fon" or rain. Thep says he is now a person with two homes and two cultures - Laos and Canada.
Listen to audio file for the whole interview in Lao.
For additional information on Thep Thavonsouk's paintings, please go to www.junerain.com