Peter Klashorst brings his mission to create public art to Bangkok’s nightclubs.
Bangkok is renowned for its dynamic, slightly chaotic nightlife – after the sun sets and the heat fades, the city remakes itself in a whir of movement, colour and bright lights. It’s an intensely visual milieu – little wonder that it attracts artists like Peter Klashorst, who is fascinated by Bangkok’s extremes.
“A painter always need inspiration – it’s like a waterfall here,” Klashorst says. “I would need 10 more painters to capture it all.
“In one way the city is impersonal, a desert of cement, but it’s also a village. You see it with the street vendors and in certain areas. It’s that combination. There is a freedom.”
Klashorst rose to prominence in Amsterdam in the 1980s when he emerged as one of the young standard-bearers for the After Nature collective, a group of artists committed to restoring art to the public space and kicking against its privileged, highbrow status. They created art on the street and in nightclubs – and that is what Klashorst hopes to achieve 30 years later in Bangkok.
This month, he will appear at the newly opened Mode Sathorn for his part party, part exhibition. Klashorst will be on the spot, creating paintings of everything in front of him and other revellers are invited to join in.
“It’s a new style of party – a painting party,” he says. “Everyone’s welcome, bring your brushes, bring your absinthe. Get drunk and make paintings – I’m like the orchestra conductor. At the same time, we’re exhibiting some paintings I made in my studio, which are about nightlife in Bangkok.
“I paint people who are there at the party – I like to paint nightlife. It’s a very direct way to work. I want to paint the decadence of the city. When they’re in front of you, to paint directly from life, that makes it stronger. At the same time, every painting is also a self-portrait.”
Unlike some artists who prefer the peace and quiet of their studio, Klashorst prefers to create in public.
“You don’t have time to think – people don’t really pose,” he says. “I would always go to the zoo to make drawings but an elephant never stands still either. You have to paint them while they are moving and with people it’s the same. I like to see the backs of their heads to see their front. When you see people move, you see how they really look.
“I’m used to working in public – it’s almost impossible for me to create something in private.”
Klashorst insists that Bangkok’s energy also makes his job easier, offering the right atmosphere as well as a steady stream of stimuli.
“What I like about Bangkok is that it has an enormous amount of energy and I think that comes from all the young people here who want something,” he says.
“It has the same kind of feeling as New York in the 1980s. There is this drive of people wanting to do something. That gives me a lot as an artist. It’s delirious in a way, the parties on the rooftop – that doesn’t exist in countries like Holland.
“Some people think of Thailand as Third World but if you look at Bangkok and compare it to Amsterdam, this city has developed into a metropolis that attracts people from all over the world. For me, Bangkok is very vibrant city and it makes it easy to paint.”
144 North Sathorn Rd |02-623-4555 | modesathorn.com