In honor of Thai heritage month, Cannily Curated features Nang Kwak by Thai artist, Poonnika Molloy. The realist portrait of the deity is predominantly oil, highlighted with 24kt gold embellishments and Thai floral embroidery.
In Thai folklore, Nang Kwak is the spirit of prosperity. Her image is often displayed on a poster or as a figurine in Thai stores or households. Common Thai superstition believes her presence attracts wealth for business, salespeople, and families.
It is obvious that this rendition of Nang Kwak does not portray the spirit’s image in the conventional sense because traditionally, she dons a gold crown and she is dressed in a Thai outfit. But even if the subject does not actually wear these objects, the materials still accentuate her in the painting.
In Molloy’s interpretation, Nang Kwak is outfitted with non-traditional athleisure attire. Flowers layer the subject with increasing density toward the lower aspect of the art consequently drawing focus up to her face. Glistening, gold flecks surround her expression which is exuded with a somewhat mockingly playful smirk.
Despite the art’s modernity transformed from a gold-colored figurine, Nang Kwak still appears opulent; her glow signifies divinity. And she carries the most recognizable attribute of the spirit of wealth– her beckoning right hand presenting what is meant to be a friendly gesture to her customers.
Would you ever have guessed this to be the Thai symbol of wealth if you hadn’t known it?
Originals and prints available on Saatchi art starting at $40: Nang Kwak by Poonnika Molloy.