Maitree Siriboon is an artist from Thailand, born on June 11, 1983 in Ubon Ratchatani, a province in the north eastern Isarn region of Thailand. Maitree is one of Thailand’s leading young artists whose works have been shown internationally. He is known for his photographic works, mosaic collages, installations and performances.
Maitree moved to Bangkok at the age of fifteen to study, first at the College of Fine Art at Ladkrabang and later at Silpakorn University where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art. His early collage work is influenced by his childhood in Isarn, transforming half-forgotten snapshots of memories into colorful abstractions of rural life. His childhood landscape permeates his art, a sparkling two-dimensional texture filled with trees, rice paddies, traditional agricultural scenes, and water buffaloes. Maitree often combines his inner childhood memories with contemporary dreams, creating a new imaginary world of beauty using reflective mosaics of colored glass, the same kind as being used on the outdoor surface of many Thai temples. More recently, Maitree turned to contemporary photography. His first series Isarn Boy Dream invites foreigners to his childhood home Nong-Bo, placing them against characteristic village backdrops. Isarn Boy Soi 4 examines, in an idealized fashion, the experience of rural youth transplanted to a big cosmopolitan city and addresses an underlying motif of sex labor. In Albino & Green and in Dream of Beyond, Maitree develops a sensuous and sometimes mystical treatment of models and water buffalos in idyllic pastoral settings. His focus in his recent work is to pay tribute to and use the imagery of the buffalo as a symbol from a cultural and historical perspective. It was the buffalo through its hard work that helped build Thailand into a rice farming nation and then into the modern nation it is today. As he says: “Today however, we hardly see buffaloes working in the rice fields, and yet they remain one of the most respected animals in Thailand. Their numbers are decreasing rapidly, and they now have assumed new roles as a decorative item, a family pet, a source of food, and as a cultural icon for tourism purposes.” The buffalo has had lasting influences over Thai culture and beliefs, and historically has represented positive attributes. However, in recent times, the buffalo has become a metaphor for many negative attitudes toward people. The word “buffalo” (“kwai” in Thai) is often applied to describe someone who is less educated, foolish, stupid, or who is difficult to train. The dichotomy of attitudes towards this important animal is a symbol of changes in Thai society.
Apart from Thai exhibitions Maitree Siriboon has also been exhibited in Laos, Singapore, France, China, United Kingdom, Cambodia, Korea, USA, Brazil, Japan, Italy, Malaysia, and the Netherlands. He has also been shown at a Biennale in France and a Triennale in China. He is a recipient of numerous national awards like The Bangkok Bank Art Award in 2006.