With the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale 2018 (BAB) hitting the capital for the first time ever in Thailand’s history, this is an incredibly unique time for art lovers local and worldwide. Not only are there a number of venues playing host to exceptional installations from local and international artists – think pumpkins hanging from the ceilings of Central World, polka-dot sculptures and works by Japanese Yayoi Kusuma at Siam Paragon and two mega giants at Wat Arun – but there are also a wealth of local galleries and museums running exhibitions in line with the Biennale’s overriding theme, ‘Beyond Bliss’. Some of course are just running exhibitions because they can, and should.
Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic, currently in the capital and actively involved in the BAB – find her at the BACC – made a very interesting observation: “It’s true that there there are many biennales around the world, but some of them are very political and deal with power and the art market. This (Bangkok) biennale is for art itself”. So what we’re looking at here, ladies and gentleman, is art for the sake of art, nothing else. Doesn’t that make you feel super lucky to be in Bangkok right now?
With more than 200 art pieces by 75 international and Thai artists spread over 20 venues around the city, everywhere from temples, historical buildings and hotels to malls and galleries, there’s one thing that’s certain: Bangkokians won’t be starved of art in the coming months. The world of art may all seem super complicated right now so we’ve decided to put together a list of 10 must-see exhibitions in Bangkok this November, some involved with the BAB and others, in their own right, having nothing to do with it. Let’s see if you can visit them all before the month’s end!
House of Lucie, Bangkok’s very own and fully dedicated centre for photography will be showing a selection of iconic works of the widely revered Japanese photographer Kenro Izu, who in 2007 received the Lucie Visionary Award. His still life photography, both commercial and fine art is a passion that has taken him to explore a variety of mediums and countries, most notably sacred sites in Egypt and Cambodia. In 2000, Izu started experimenting with a technique of Cyano over Platinum image to achieve infinitively deep blue-black images to express inner sanctuary within the human body and objects. The body of work “BLUE” was completed in 2004 and exhibited in USA and abroad. The photographer and philanthropist – he founded The Angkor Hospital for Children in 1999 – will be attending the exhibition’s opening on 3 November.
To celebrate the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, MOCA has put together a group exhibition consisting of 18 artists, both national artists and new generation to explore their art under the theme of ‘Faith Beyond Earth’. The exhibition presents faith and beliefs – which are abstract, invisible and intangible – into something that is concrete and material through various forms of artworks, conveying the meaning of faith and beliefs nurtured in the spirituality of each individual artist. The museum will be presenting the works of two national artists – Dr. Chalermchai Kositpipat and Mr. Panya Vijinthanasarn – as well as established and rising stars. Curating the exhibition is Mr. Tawatchai Somkong – the editor of the Fine Art Magazine.
In this solo exhibition by Sutthikiet Pumpoung, the artist explores the very meaning of history itself and how we record it by going to the age-old tradition of painting as a way to tell a story of current events. Used a historical tool to chronicle civilizations and relay the memories of a circumstance experienced by a society to later generations, Sutthikiet does much the same in seeking to convey the political and social waves of the last decade in Thailand through painting. For this exhibition, he has created contemporary Thai paintings, relying on formal structures of mural paintings to portray and express opinions. These all come together in an interesting record of the behaviours of people and the socially transforming events in Thailand, reflecting the philosophy of human coexistence under current circumstances.
In conjunction with the Bangkok Art Biennale 2018, Nova Contemporary presents the artist’s overview of Bangkok outside of a white cube setting and in the luscious surroundings of Parichart Court at Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel. In her works, She often objectifies her body, transforming herself into tools and apparatuses. Contorted and strained, her quasi-nude form stands boldly apart against the colourful backdrop, with the alluring bright colours and painterly feature in these videos becoming a crucial part of her artistic repertoire. One of the exhibited works, The Scale 2 (2015), was exhibited in 57th Venice Biennale with Alamak! project “Islands In The Stream”.
In his very first solo exhibition, Thai painter artist Chatchai Puipia presents new works after a long hiatus after staging his own funeral and subsequent withdrawal from the art world in 2010. Presented by Nova Contemporary, Vetal Suite is the culmination of Chatchai’s deep and long investigation into love, life and art and his further examination of the intricate relationships between them. Having risen from the dead, Chatchai has turned the gallery into an “aquarium for his consciousness”. From his mind, he conjured up the Vetal, a shadow of himself cast by a reflection in the mirror and a self mediated through many filters: a man half-Vietnamese, half-Thai, part human, part ghost. Vetal welcomes you to his suite.
Exploring our contemporary landscape, a city becoming increasingly gentrified, the question of displacement is posed. Where do people go and what happens to the ghost buildings they leave behind? As long as a nation can portray a happy and glittering image while glitches in its society remain concealedl then on the surface all seems to be in control. But is it? In Shifts, Varsha Nair presents her own, and collaborative and curated works that include mixed media, multimedia, and a site-specific installations, spanning from 2000 until the present that deconstruct, reconstruct and map different realities both tangible and abstract, and private and communal.
In this solo exhibition by ABI, curated by Kimmo Kauko, ‘Bangkok Dizzy’ tells the story of real life in the big city, reflecting the urban side of it, such as its crime and the customs in families and society. ABI enlists iconic cartoon characters as the storytellers who gently guide viewers on a trip to stark reality. “This isn’t Disneyland kids, welcome to ‘Bangkok Dizzy’”. If you’re looking to take a look at the pieces during the day, make sure to contact Whiteline for a viewing by appointment.
In this solo exhibition by Sylvia Ong, one learns about the true meaning of ‘La Fête’, in other words, celebration. This can range from little events like feeling an unexpected emotion or being able to express yourself freely, to something much bigger. By the hands of Sylvia Ong with a genuine earnestness, La Fête serves as a reminder that there is much to be celebrated in the everyday. What reveals itself is a natural occurrence from an artist who let’s go of control and goes with the flow.
YenakArt Villa has put together an exceptional contemporary exhibition in conjunction with the Bangkok Biennale. The gallery will display 5 artworks by Japanese painter and sculptor Soichiro Shumizu, including 4 wooden engravings and a stunning piece of metal which is 2.5m x 3.5m. The garden of the villa will play host to some monumental sculptures by famous jewellery artist Matthew Campbell Laurenza and the whole area will be enhanced by conceptual lightning artist Matteo Messervy.
Helen Britton and David Bielander, two artists starting in opposite parts of the planet, walking disparate paths and having altogether different experiences, a different sense of humour, a different gender, different perspective and different artistic practices, come together to stand side by side. They do so in an intense dialogue which has spanned over twenty years where they shared a studio, in Munich, Germany. And the differences have brought about an idiosyncratic universe very specific to them. The two now bring their work to Southeast Asia for the first time, in the form of jewellery, drawings, objects and ideas.