At first glance it was another typical painting of the peaceful-looking Buddha, in the likeness of the famous Jinaraj Buddha: seated inside an arch frame with both eyes closed, one hand on his knee, another on his lap.

But a closer look reveals that the figure isn’t the traditional golden Buddha one is used to seeing, but the Japanese superhero Ultraman, posed in front of a backdrop of designer brand Louis Vuitton’s trademarked patterns.

The painting is part of a four-piece “Ultraman Buddha” collection, created by an art student, Supparat Chaijungreed, in northeastern Thailand. The others show several Ultramans in superhero-like poses, with their heads replaced by that of the Buddha. Photos of the artwork on public display went viral in September and triggered major public backlash, with people condemning it for being “extremely inappropriate”.

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Jintamas Saksornchai

Jintamas Saksornchai is a Bangkok-based Thai reporter. She began a career in journalism from 2012, and has her work published, both in Thai and English languages, with established local outlets such as Khaosod English and Prachatai. She has covered an extensive range of topics in Thailand, with a focus on civil and cultural issues.