By Anne Alvarez
Tucked away in a tiny studio on the corner of Ocean Ave and Washington Blvd, is where you’ll find world renowned international visual artist Vibul Wonprasat, a gentle unassuming man whose works have been exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Louvre and Grand Palais of France.
A child prodigy originating from a small village in Thailand, Wonprasat was given a full scholarship at the age of 15 to attend the Phillipines University, where he excelled and completed the program 9 months ahead of schedule. He then attended Bangkok College of Fine Arts and graduated with honors at age 20. It was during his time at the Fine Arts school, after having sold 3 paintings during his first art show as a student, that he realized that he had the potential to be an artist. Immediately thereafter, he began to sell paintings to European and American art collectors.
It was one of these collectors that sponsored his move to Stuttgart Germany, where he was exhibited at various galleries at the time. Wonprasat has since traveled the world exhibiting and selling his art. In 1984, after having visited Los Angeles various times, he decided to make Venice Beach his permanent home. Asked why he chose Venice to reside in out of all the places he has visited, Wonprasat stated “Venice is the best city in the world to me. Nowhere else that I’ve been offers such a diverse and eclectic environment. This is the perfect place for an artist to be.”
While Wonprasat maintains that Venice is home, he maintains a studio in Paris to which he retreats at least once a year, most recently in December 2011 for the opening of “Carrousel Du Louvre” at the Louvre, which marked the third time exhibiting there for the seasoned painter. The Paris attending audience typically reaches up to 40,000 per day during red carpet festivities. During this exhibit he unveiled “First Kiss” from The Blue Bird series, a 30×40 inch oil on canvas (which is available for $32,000US.)
This past March, Wonprasat was honored as Artist Of The Month for the Mural Conservancy Los Angeles (MCLA), a coalition composed of artists, public art advocates, city and state officials, and restoration specialists, all of whom have one goal in mind: protecting the legal rights of artists and preventing the loss of significant works of public art. This honor was for his mural entitled “East Meets West” located at 4757 Melrose Ave, (at Harvard Blvd), described by MCLA as an optimistic depiction of Asian immigrants moving to Los Angeles, melding images of traditional costumes, Oriental architecture, and contemporary life.
Wonprasat has been honored by the California Arts Council, U.S Commerce association, The City Of Los Angeles, and a few others for his outstanding contribution to the art world. In addition to being honored by various organizations, he has also received a number of awards, including the Asia Alive Award in 2005, for his contribution to Asian art history. Currently his art is a subject at a Yucatan Mexico university, where it is used to teach and explore his unique technique. “There isn’t a day that I am not creating: it is like breathing to me.” That is why he opened his studio and converted into an art school, having successively taught over 300 students in the past 27 years. Students from Chile, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, and Japan have sought his guidance in perfecting their art.
Although Wonprasat has received International acclaim and success throughout the world, the American art market has mostly overlooked his talent. Currently in the running for an exhibition at MOCA in 2013, he is hopeful. “L.A is my home: it would bring me great joy to be exhibited locally at one of our great museums.” At this time Wonprasat has been contracted to paint a mural on a side wall of an apartment building on Speedway owned by Joe And Nancy Ward, who moved to Venice from Oklahoma a little over a year ago. The Wards became familiar with his art when they would come visit their son who lives next door to Wonprasat. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw his art, it’s like living next door to Picasso,” she told her son. Nancy Ward is ecstatic to have the artist painting the mural on her property. Much more can be said about this extraordinary artist living down the street from us Venicians, but then this article would turn into a novel. Get to know
Vibul: call his studio for a private showing or to sign up for lessons from a truly gifted artist.
Check out Vibul’s website.