orginally posted on NIUME
Bangkok is becoming, if not so already is, a vibrant art scene, which is growing throughout the city. I have visited 6 exhibitions during my two week stay and was really impressed by the artists and their work. The thing that stroke me the most was the almost sensible urge to express their (critical) ideas about society and life in the city.
Advertisement in Bangkok especially around the shopping malls, is for me in one word: surreal. The Caucasian and American faces are luring at you, everywhere you look often on screens bigger than my three-store-high flat, showing what the perfect life looks like. I think that is why I was so deeply moved by the video projection of the Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai at the exhibition ‘Northern Land Southern Seas’ at Tang Contemporary Art gallery. At one point he asks himself what the man in the ad, fully dressed in Levi’s denim means with “join the conversation” whilst outside the temperature rises to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
When I visited my sister back in 2012 the city wasn’t that crowded and noisy, there were less shopping malls and far less advertising signs. The rise of these big consuming industry are what seems to me a logic result to the growing economy and rising riches of the upper class in the city. As always when society (or a part of) are prospering, they tend to live well, enjoy the basis materialistic pleasures and display their hard earned wealth. The behaviors of the rich and the poor and their mutually relations, visible and invisible, are the subject of Leela Promwong’s exhibition ‘Patronage system’ at Number 1 Gallery. Her big and bold oil-paintings are striking, filled with fantasy creatures representing real life issues.
It is interesting to see that the grew of economy and with that the power of the upper class lead to the booming art scene. In 2012 there were just a few galleries, and those few were hard to find or reach. Now there are many artists making art and creating a artistic movement of opinions and criticism heading away from the mainstream. During my visit at 100 Tonson Gallery the hostess, a fresh art graduate, told me that there is hardly a market for contemporary art in Bangkok. So with a small to none market, the need to tell their world their stories is persevering. In this gallery Yuree Kensaku painted the biggest mural I have ever seen ‘Atmosfear’, depicting her personal as well worldwide problems.
Just two blocks from where my sister lives there is Kalwit Studio Gallery, representing ‘Parade of Toys’ exhibiting the work of three contemporary artists, who are interested in the different roles we play in a ever-changing world.
If you’re in Bangkok and want to do something cultural in one place, I would recommend a visit to the BACC (Bangkok Art and Cultural Central) 2 minutes walk from BTS station National Stadium. This building contains 9 levels packed with must see exhibitions, performing arts, arts and crafts studio’s and tiny shops full with unique stuff. I visited ‘Unseen Siam’ on the nine floor, a range of the first ever photographs of Bangkok and royal house. To be honest I had mixed feelings about the scene’s taken by European photographers and the colonial and superior vibe throughout the settings. Thailand was never a colony, because the Siam king at that time gave up parts of Laos and Cambodja in exchange of freedom. The way Thailand has managed to be a part of the Industrial movement and to grow with the world economy is what I believe one of the great examples of adaptation.
At BACC on the eight floor also visited ‘Traces and Trails’ a exhibition of the lifeworks of Thailands greatest contemporary artist: Pratuang Emjaroen. For me seeing his work, divided in five periods, is like watching a monk searching for salvation from the world and himself, to find that divine inner peace. It touched my heart.
Unfortunately I thought it wasn’t allowed to make pictures so I did not bring my phone with me.
Thanks to Bangkok101 who kept me updated about venues, exhibition openings and more. But without the BAM, Bangkok Art Map, I would be lost!
This last a picture of me and my sisters was made at Tang Contemporary Art by Entang Wiharso and is called Under Perfect Mirror.