By Zoe Fitch

Images by Pannawat Thamutok

“Knives out” is an idiom based on a Southern expression meaning “at my wit’s end.” This idiom has been used to say that people are ready to blame or punish someone for something in an often unfair way. The expression can be linked back to more than a century ago when “the knives are out for [someone]” and “have their knives out for [someone].” These expressions can even be indirectly connected to the assassination of Julius Caesar and Shakespeare’s “The Ides of March.” On a lighter note, the idiom can be seen in the title of a movie that was “borrowed” from a 2001 Radiohead song.

In an interview with the New Musical Express, Thom Yorke, lead singer of the band Radiohead, said, “It’s partly the idea of the businessman walking out on his wife and kids and never coming back. It’s also the thousand-yard stare when you look at someone close to you, and you know they’re gonna die. It’s like a shadow over them or how they look straight through you. The shine goes out of their eyes.” Basically, Knives Out is not cruelty but a way to express feelings just as painting is an expression of self and a response to human experience. Sometimes, in your “place,” you search for terms and ways of attempting to define complicated relationships. And sometimes, at your wit’s end, you find a palette knife and get to painting.

Pannawat Thamutok is from Bangkok, Thailand. He moved to Plano, Texas, in fourth grade. He later moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where he and his family reside today. His family owns a successful Thai restaurant in Oxford called Rice and Spice. Thamutok recalls his family starting the restaurant as a side business to his father’s position in tech once struggling during the recession. It was a way to express their culture in a new place and help their family, but the business has since evolved into an Oxford staple. Today, Thamutok stays involved with the local Oxford and Water Valley communities and has participated in the Double Decker Arts Festival and the Water Valley Art Crawl.

He is inspired by a wide range of artists and styles and recalls not picking up the palette knife until high school where he found his enjoyment for the pace the tool allows you to work at. Thamutok says that using the palette knife is a fast process he enjoys most. His palette is natural and true to color as he matches each hue in his reference image. A sense of movement and passing time are embedded in his work as the colors in the figures and/or objects find their way outside the form as wisps of color. The environment over and underlaps the subject; an ephemeral essence is viewed in the painted scene. And though he paints what surrounds him, Thamutok says his approach to fine art is mostly from a business standpoint.

A working model is used for his business, and he pays attention to the reactions and feedback of his viewers before returning to the studio. Though Thamutok is not from Oxford or Mississippi, he captures the experience of living in the space in his artwork. Place can solely be an inspiration, while knowledge and background enhance this idea. Thamutok paints monuments that many connect their identity to from growing up there. His depictions of old buildings, known faces, and familiar scenes in North Mississippi inspire nostalgia for many of his viewers while he establishes his connections. So rather than knives out at the end, palette knives out at the door face of discovery.