Thai artist Uttaporn Nimmalaikaew paints portraits on layers of fine netting or tulle, deftly producing an analog 3D effect with subjects who appear to be sitting in chairs or lying down on beds. When circling the paintings they morph and shift, changing form depending on the viewer’s distance and location to the piece. These subjects are often his family, a way for the artist to pause his loved ones’ aging process and preserve them in time.
Nimmalaikaew first discovered the technique while a student at Silpakorn University in Bangkok after a stray speck of paint landed on a mosquito net in his studio. Witnessing the dimensionality the surface afforded the paint, he began to explore new ways in which to paint on the utilitarian material.
For each piece Nimmalaikaew begins with a digital drawing which he then prints life-size to determine the subject’s form and texture. He then begins to paint the layers with oil paint in a style that he calls “tulle-painting style.” In an 2014 interview he explained, “Over time, I have learnt that the tulle demands a different way of creating realistic light and shadow for the material. The top layer gives details for the optical illusion. Then I connect each layer with clear copolymer line to make it all fit together and create depth in the image.”