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Creator of Chiang Rai’s Famous White Temple Retires at 67

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Creator of Chiang Rai's Famous White Temple Retires at 67

Chalermchai Kositpipat, Thailand’s national artist who built Wat Rong Khun, also known as the White Temple, has announced his retirement.

Chalermchai Kositpipat, one of Thailand’s most well-known contemporary artists, has hung up his brushes for good in a low-key decision known only to close friends until now.

“I’m done,” the 67-year-old artist said in a video posted to his Facebook page on Thursday.

The Chiang Rai native quietly faded from the art scene two years ago, but he had not announced his retirement publicly until that three-minute video on social media.

Chalermchai stated that he decided to retire as an artist at age 65 and embark on a new adventure by motorcycle across the country with his close friends.

Chalermchai is a popular artist known for his outspoken style and strong criticism of artworks and social issues. He is regarded as an all-around artist, adept at painting, sculpture, and architecture.

white temple artist

His most famous work is the construction of Wat Rong Khun, also known as the “white temple” by tourists, in the Muang district of his home province of Chiang Rai, which opened to the public in 1997.

He built Wat Rong Khun in the style of a temple to showcase his artistic abilities, and it is now a major draw for visitors to Chiang Rai Province.

Charlermchai once stated that he could die peacefully once Wat Rong Khun (White Temple) was completed.

white temple artist

His most recent work was a life-size sculpture of Petty Officer 1st Class Saman Kunan, also known as Ja Sam, installed outside Tham Luang cave in Mae Sai district.

It is a memorial to the former navy diver who died while rescuing the 13 football players trapped inside the flooded cave.

It was paid for out of the national artist’s own pocket.

Chalermchai stated that art had now taken a back seat and had become a leisure activity, with his primary focus now on travelling on two wheels before the final chapter of his life ended.

“I accept what is going to happen to me, including death,” he said. “I am prepared for anything.”

“I don’t want to be seriously creating art until I’m dead,” he said. “I have another happy life.”

White Temple Lights up a Night in Chiang Rai

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