As gallery goers know, Bangkok’s visual art scene is thriving, despite the pressures of censorship
Over the past decade the art scene in Bangkok has grown considerably, and in its wake a slew of interesting venues have opened. In the past six months or so several new galleries have entered the fray, including Maison Close and Galerie Adler in the Charoen Krung Creative District, and Galerie Oasis, an art house and art house cinema in one (on Sukhumvit Soi 43). Add that to the already huge number of established galleries in this town and you’ve got yourself a lot of visual stimulation.
But formal (or informal) galleries are not the only place in the city to see art. The new Leica store in Gaysorn Plaza has its own photo gallery—appropriately called the Leica Gallery Bangkok—and vegetarian restaurant Broccoli Revolution on Sukhumvit Soi 49 has given over its 2nd floor area to an inventive gallery called Case Space Revolution. Meanwhile, the P. Tendercool furniture showroom on Charoen Krung 30 has used its vast wall space to showcase some very interesting artists, including the abstract works of Somboon Hormtientong (pictured above), which are on display until June 19th.
You can also find art on the walls on many bars and restaurants in Bangkok, and Eat Me restaurant even has a rotating selection of artwork for diners to admire, exclusively curated by H Gallery on nearby Sathorn Soi 12. Or, head to Smalls on Soi Suan Phlu where owner David Jacobson—an astute art collector in his own right—has his eclectic collection on display over all three floors of the bar. And, in a reverse scenario, the Ekamian (Sukhumvit Soi 40) is a relatively new art gallery that doubles as an innovative Chef’s Table restaurant.
Of course, it would be criminal to leave out Bangkok’s legion of street artists, who use derelict buildings as their colourful canvasses. Equally well known by the public as the police, these graffiti gadflys often infuse their work with social critique, something that is usually censored outright in Thailand’s conventional gallery or museum settings. But if a work is too controversial—such as the numerous black leopard wall murals that sprang up last March in response to a high profile case of illegal poaching—then it mysteriously “disappears” under a coat of fresh white paint, courtesy of the municipal powers that be. Proof positive of the underlying power of art.
This city’s ongoing creative explosion has also been enhanced by more and more by acclaimed international artists coming to Bangkok to display their work. Recent “brushes with fame” include a visit by Japanese-American artist Madsaki, who unveiled his largest ever public installation on May 8th at Central Embassy (1031 Phloen Chit Rd). And in October the Bangkok Art Biennale arrives.
If it all sounds like a lot to take in, don’t worry… it is! However, the Bangkok Art Map (BAM), which has been publishing a monthly guide to the city’s art scene for over 10 years now, is a handy resource tool for local gallery goers wanting to know the who, what, and where when it comes to visual art. To fine out more about art in BKK, visit: www.facebook.com/bangkokartmap.