One Spanish artist uses glass painting to recast Bangkok in technicolour
Although the scenes of chaos that appear throughout the streets of Bangkok provided the inspiration for Daniel Monfort Gil’s new exhibition, Bangkok, Anytime, his distinctive glass-painting technique owes to his native Barcelona. In the Catalan capital, the brightly coloured posters of Casas and Gaudí remain as monuments to the city’s love affair with modernism.
But when Monfort Gil moved to Bangkok more than four years ago, trading one of the world’s most liveable cities for another, he brought glass painting with him.
“When I say I am painting glass, people think it is glass like in the windows of a cathedral but it’s not like that,” he says. “Those paintings are translucent, you can see through them. I have to paint layers. First you do the details, the shapes. Because if you paint something first, and then another layer, you cannot remove the first part.
“I had been to Bangkok many times on holidays and liked it – I like the lifestyle. Bangkok is always catching you a little bit. Finally, I decided to move here. Bangkok is a city where people are always on the street – you never feel alone.”
Even within a relatively short time in Bangkok, Monfort Gil has observed changes in the cityscape.
“It’s totally different already. If you come every year you probably don’t see it but if you stay away and then come back, the change is quite shocking,” he says. “There are many more skyscrapers, many more shopping malls. People look a little more stressed.”
It is with these changes in mind that Monfort Gil seeks out certain tableaus within Bangkok. While he is drawn to scenes of social interaction, he also searches for details that may soon disappear.
“The first thing for me is always the people,” he says. “What are they doing? People selling food or the chaos on the street – when you’re living here you get used to it but I think it takes people by surprise when they first come here.
“I also look for things that we see now but maybe we won’t see them any more in the future. The market atmosphere or the way people cook on the street. Maybe in a decade that will not be the same.”
“People are cooking sticky rice in a certain kind of basket – maybe they will have a machine to do that soon.”
Monfort Gil’s background is in graphic design and, although the vibrant colours and swirl of activity in his paintings are the most immediately noticeable aspects, closer inspection reveals scrupulous attention to detail. The lines, Monfort explains, are all hand-drawn – which makes buildings with their myriad windows, doorknobs and balconies particularly time- onsuming and fiddly.
“Sometimes people look at my work and think that it has been done by computer,” he says. “But it’s not, every line has been done by hand. It’s more complicated.
“The most difficult thing is when there are a lot of line that need to be parallel. I need it to be quiet, and sometimes maybe stop for 30 minutes. It took me a long time, maybe three years to finish all these pieces.”
From now until the end of the month, Monfort Gil’s labour of love – about 30 pieces – is showing at Serindia Gallery. For those who has found themselves intoxicated by the street life of this city, it’s rare to see these recognisable scenes wrought in such flamboyant shades and exquisite, mind-boggling detail.
OP Garden Soi Charoenkrung 36 | 02-238-6410
serindiagallery.com | Tues-Sun 11am-6pm