EACH YEAR, HUNDREDS OF YOUNG MEN FROM AROUND THE WORLD TRAVEL TO THAILAND TO LEARN THE ART OF THAI BOXING, OR MUAY THAI AS IT IS KNOWN IN THE THAI LANGUAGE. THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY STAY FOR A WEEK OR TWO, OFTEN JOINING ORGANISED BOXING TOURS – AND FOR THESE YOUNG MEN, LEARNING MUAY THAI IS A FUN DIVERSION AND A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY OF GETTING FIT WHILE ENJOYING TIME AWAY FROM HOME.
Many young men from all nationalities travel to Thailand with the objective to learn and master the ancient techniques of Muay Thai, Thai boxing. For many it is something they wish to learn for their own entertainment. But there are others, however, who despite the gruelling physical and mental challenges faced by serious practitioners of Muay Thai, choose to remain in Thailand for longer periods, often years, in the hope of making a living from this ancient sport. It is in this second group of young fighters that the man who works under the name iconic19 finds his muses.
Thailand is often referred to as a golden land, not because there is precious metal buried underground but because the country gives off a certain lustre, be it the fertile rice fields of the central plains, white sandy beaches or the warm hospitality of its inhabitants. Iconic19 is one of them. Born in Australia 37 years ago, iconic19 has long since changed his home country for a new life in Thailand. It is here in the Golden Land that iconic19 taught himself the art and skills of photography, without doubt inspired by the treasure of beauty this country has to offer. Iconic19 never enjoyed any formal instruction. He just goes with the flow, and learns on the way if his exciting journey. A journey that he likes to share with some of those many young man who come to Thailand with the dream to master the techniques of Thai boxing.
Iconic19 finds his subjects in the group of guys that take Muay Thai as a very serious activity. No leisure exercise. Muay Thai is a popular sport in Thai land and everyone who has visited probably has witnessed the small parades in which athletes promote themselves standing in open trucks and displaying their fight movements. It’s a show and the bowers are the actors. Iconic19 made it his objective to juxtapose the impressive physical presence of the fighters with emotions that one might not necessarily attribute to them – such as sadness, vulnerability, and contemplation. Iconic19 explains: “One usually sees Muay Thai fighters in physically commanding or threatening poses, with fists raised - ready for combat. I often find it more visually compelling to juxtapose this fierceness and confidence with the vulnerability and sadness that is often hidden from view.”
Iconic19 prefers to give his work a paint-like finish. All portraits iconic19 shot of his Muay Thai fighters were shot in his apartment against a wall that he handpainted in a style that would enhance this artistic look in his photographic work. All his models are competitive fighters, currently training and fighting in Thailand. None of them works as a professional model. Still they were willing and able to pose in other attire than their usual boxing outfit, giving iconic19 the opportunity to portray them in a different setting and show them in a different light. Iconic19’s portraits of Muay Thai fighters are not only photographs of beautiful young men, they are also a legacy to this specific Thai sport. In other words, they are truly iconic. –BM-
Featured fighters: Alexis, Ilya, Jefferson and Victor.
ICONIC19 | BEAUTIFULMAG