Dragons, lions, and guardians flutter and float in the pattern of flames and flowers. Stark black silhouettes are imprinted onto burning reds while vibrant fundamental colors bounce about. Snakes swirl along the length of a wall and sak yant-styled circles are pressed in fluorescent print. This is the work of Thai artist Y?, otherwise known as Peerapat Auepannarungsri.
Auepannarungsri started working in his current style about five years ago when he got interested in street art. He says most of his skills were honed through painting on walls, but that he was also interested in film, which he studied at university. He founded the Temporary West crew, which consists of 10 active members making street art, graffiti, and calligraphy.
Auepannarungsri’s style is rooted in Thai and pan-Asian culture and revolves mainly around fire. He primarily paints in the color red and all his characters are rendered in flame patterns, drawn in a mix of the traditional Thai kranok pattern and the traditional East Asian flame design. His characters and floral patterns are a similar mix, boiling down the connected roots of these cultures into a recognizable but unique foundation.
The heavy use of red is more than a reference to fire. It also dips into Auepannarungsri’s subliminal fascination with the hue, tapping into its deep roots in human history and psychology. Cultures across history and area have repeatedly identified it first (after black and white) and scientists in recent decades have dedicated numerous studies into its effects on humans and animals and our perception of it.
The ¥ symbol that constantly appears across his work—a reference to his artist alias and also his brand—is frequently misinterpreted as the yen sign, but Auepannarungsri says it actually draws on the similarities of Y across the runic alphabet, Shiva symbols in Hinduism, and the Psi in Greek letter. For him, it’s an existential questioning of everything: Why?