Iconoclasm is a genuine recognition of the power of the work of art. Nigel Halliday


Chinnawong, Sawai - VM - Sawai Chinnawong


Sawai Chinnawong: Genesis 1, Paradise

Genesis 1
by Sawai Chinnawong
In this highly layered and symbolic composition, I have used primary colors to tie heaven and earth together. Gold and red are our traditional colors of holiness; they form the basic color scheme. I have added more modern colors as well.
My work represents influences from many styles. All of my art is Gospel-based and inspired. I believe Jesus Christ is present in every culture, and I have chosen to celebrate his presence in our lives through Thai traditional cultural forms. I was moved to create art depicting Jesus’ life and message and as I created the influence of my cultural background naturally flowed through to produce a traditional Thai look. My belief is that Jesus did not choose just one people to hear his Word, but chose to make his home in every human heart. And just as his Word may be spoken in every language, so the visual message can be shared in the beauty of the many styles of artistry around the world.
Sawai Chinnawong: Genesis 1, Paradise, 2003, 32" x 22", acrylic on canvas. Image and text appear in Christ on the Bangkok Road. The Art of Sawai Chinnawong, an 80 page color monograph of Sawai's drawings and paintings with an appreciative critical essay by Dr. William Yoder, published by OMSC, New Haven, USA. This book can be ordered at
The love for art of Sawai Chinnawong of Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand, began when he was he child while he watched old men painting on a Buddhist temple wall. His interest in art persisted into adulthood. He studied art in a vocational school in Bangkok, Thailand. It was at this time that Sawai became a Christian. He says that a missionary was witnessing on the street one day, and soon after he began to study the Bible every day after art class. After completing his art studies, Sawai studied at the McGilvary Faculty of Theology at Payap University in Chiang Mai. He was deeply influenced by a series of lectures on the history of Christian Art given there in 1984 by artist and professor Nalini Jayasuriya. He began creating liturgical art while attending seminary and designed the artwork for the chapel there. Today his art is appreciated in many places for its portrayal of Christian themes through a Thai graphic idiom that is inspired by Thai culture. He was the Paul T. Lauby artist in residence at the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, USA, in 2003-2004 and was one of five artists featured in the 2007 exhibition "The Christian Story: Five Asian Artists Today" at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York City.
The mission of the Overseas Ministries Study Center in New Haven, USA ( is to strengthen the Christian world mission by providing residential programs for the renewal of missionaries and international church leaders, research, publications, and scholarly forums for the advancement of mission scholarship, and continuing education in cross-cultural Christian ministries. As a part of that mission, OMSC publishes Asian Christian art books, which may be found at and purchased from:
ArtWay Visual Meditation May 22, 2011