Inspiration: Contemporary Art in Bangkok

ralph kiggell
Ralph Kiggell 1997 Pool Diver water-based woodblock print 35 cm x 60 cm
Now that life in Bangkok is slowly returning to normal it’s a good time to start sharing non-strife related events and finds. It’s also time to start planning a trip, perhaps in June, so I can visit galleries and eat great food.
Bangkok has a burgeoning contemporary art scene with local and international artists, a mix I haven’t seen in smaller exhibitions in Taipei. That plus Thailand’s long history of wonderful decorative and craft related art help make a trip to the Kingdom an inspiration.
Here is a short list of upcoming exhibitions for June:

On the Edge

Artists: 8 Artists (Jonathan Gent, Chat Jenchitr, Ralph Kiggell, Thavorn Ko-Udomvit, Yeni Mao, Justin Mills, Be Takerng Pattanopas, Audrey Tulimiero Welch) Curated by Brian Curtin
Date: June 8, 2010 – July 8, 2010
Gallery: DOB Hualamphong Gallery
ARDEL Gallery’s DOB space is delighted to announce an international exhibition of visual art. Including artists from Britain, New York and Thailand, On the Edge explores a fundamental aspect of picture-making: line. This exploration is intended to emphasize art-making in terms of method, rather than insisting on strictly contextual considerations.

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‘Masquerade’ by Hii Shiew Eng

Malaysian artist Shiew Eng’s first solo exhibition Masquerade is showing at Singapore’s Mulan Gallery until May 22nd. It’s an unsettling exhibition of portraits which affectively reduces these composite images of children as to nothing more than – images. Non of the usual emotive qualities that we normally associate with portraits of children are present, instead these are sombre and ambivalent.
From the artist’s statement:

Handling photographs with delicate, calculated care, rendering them on canvas with layered nuances of colour, tonality, Shiew Eng produces some arresting portraits of pre-pubescent children. The ambiguous looks of children taken from candid photographs and painted with a garish light as though on large posters, are vaguely unsettling to look at and compel our contemplation. These paintings speak eloquently about our culture of passive seeing, the compulsions inscribed by gender and the more insidious perversions that exist. Shiew Eng’s ‘Masquerade’ is a meditated and thoughtful exercise and yet is at the same time filled with a quality of visual sensuality that promises delightful encounters for seers.

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Exodus – Where are you from?

Chiharu Nishizawa
In exhibition at the Metaphysical Art Gallery in Taipei is Chiharu Nishizawa’s “Exodus – Where are you from?”. Based in Yokohama Chiharu Nishizawa background as a printmaker can be seen in the clean sharp lines of his figures. His style is humorous, feature bright colors and often presents his subjects from a bird-eye view. I hope to head to Taipei this week to learn more about his work. From the artists statement:

The painting of Chiharu Nishizawa combines his skills of printmaking which he learned from the art school with the ukiyo-e and even introduced the western pop art and the forms of digitalized on-line game virtual spaces into his art works.
To see the works of Chiharu Nishizawa, we usually see the world of many lives yet with enormous sense of loneliness. Though the white space is left in the screen, and sometimes the white color is replaced with other monochrome, a space without being vacuumed, it is nothing but a virtual world. The people whose faces are blurred are also like symbols of some icons. The cities are like building blocks, the plants are like decorations, the streets are like mazes and the people are like ants who are acting without personalities in it. Everything is icon-ized in the picture. It is like a scene in a video game. Even the picture is indicating some event that is happening right now, lives seem to move on in silence in the huge virtual world of vacuum. Through the paintings of Chiharu Nishizawa, we can realize that when facing lives, human are guided by an invisible force. The regulation must be existing in the universe guiding us. That is the destiny that no one can change no matter how hard we try.

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Vue Privée: Technicolor Japan

Vue Privée: Technicolor Japan
Girl Taking a Ride on a Kago
Singapore’s newest gallery, Vue Privée, opens this Thursday, May 13th. The inaugural exhibition Technicolor Japan aims to capture the elegance of ‘Old Japan’, seen through the lens of photographers working and living during the late Edo period. These staged scenes, the result of Western photographers and Japanese craftsmen, helped shape foreign perception of Japanese culture at that time.
Vue Privée was founded by photographer, Oliver Henry, whose goal is to create a lifestyle brad inspired by the world of fine art photography, make photography more accessible to collectors and offer alternative views to the traditional concepts of photography.

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Shadow Play – Dharma by Chusak Srikwan

Shadow Play - Dharma by Chusak Srikwan
If you are feeling adventurous and heading to Bangkok this month be sure to check out Shadow Play – Dharma by Chusak Srikwan which is showing at the ARDEL Gallery of Modern Art until May 30th.
“Shadow play” is a kind of the local play in the southern part of Thailand. It consists of many art techniques in which have been widely known and developed along with the lifestyle of local people. The performance uses the local dialect and the story line that parts of it was developed from the Buddhist teachings helps acknowledge people in a less serious yet very nourishing way. Chusak Srikwan, an emerging artist from Songkhla, is inspired by this teaching approach and therefore creates the exhibition “Shadow Play – Dharma” by applying together his carving skill on leather and performing the shadow figures.

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Wang Fenghua at Gallery J. Chen

Wang Fenghua
No.2 Pole and Shadow No.2
In exhibition until May 9th, 2010 at Gallery J. Chen on DunHua S. Rd in Taipei is a series of work from Chinese artist Wang Fenghua. From the gallery’s introduction:

Over the past few years, Wang Feng Hua has had the habit of allocating all the images he has collected from the real world into two different parts of his memories: one is his everyday memory, which is the reality of his life, and the other is the inner reality he has cultivated in his heart.
The psychological reality and the reality of the real world, naturally have absolute differences. In this reality, even the air is completely still. The strange thing is, although even air is still, the reality found in Wang Feng Hua’s heart can grow, change, evolve, is full of emotion, and even the lightest breathe is kept on his canvas, lingering and unwilling to disperse.
As a part of the group of China’s new generation of artists, each person faces similar issues: how to create a new foundation on the basis of the past, and deduce individualistic semantics from old topics. When enjoying the new works of Wang Feng Hua, it ensures me that the art of Wang Feng Hua is at the same pace with the environment he grew up in. The energy he absorbed in Xian is undeniably tied tightly together in his creative thoughts and cannot be separated.

Wang Fenghua was born in 1971 and graduated from the Oil Painting Department of Xian Academy of Fine Arts. He is now working as a professor in Xian Academy of Fine Arts. Gallery J. Chen is a newly established gallery in Taipei City dedicated to the promotion of emerging Asian Contemporary Art.

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David LaChapelle MOCA Taipei

David LaChapelle MOCA Taipei
I’m back in Taipei tomorrow and my first stop is MOCA which has an exhibition of David LaChappelle’s photography. His photography is often described as surreal, grotesque, shocking and ironic. I think he is generally imaginative and funny.
From the exhibition introduction:

The creative inspiration of LaChapelle comes from the classical heritage of art history to daily life elements related to the street culture. The result is a series of spectacular works interwoven by past and present; a mixture of refined and popular tastes. His works are also a mirror and see-through lens of the multifaceted popular culture. Standing between glamorous and commercial cultures, the artist is not limited to the purpose of his works, thus transcending market trends and common traditions. LaChapelle is one of the few photographers that have been long accepted and regarded as a model by the often overcritical European and American contemporary art.
Since 2008, LaChapelle began to held exhibitions and lectures at some of the world’s prominent art museums, receiving very positive feedbacks everywhere he went. In 2010, LaChapelle selected the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, as his first stop in Asia. In such opportunity, the artist will exhibit approximately 250 works created from 1985 to 2009. These works are categorized into eight sections: Heaven to Hell, Deluge and Salvation, Disaster and Destruction, Vanity, Meditation, Recollections in America, Auguries of Innocence, and Holy War. The core concept and creative focus in these works is one: From the people, back to the people.

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E-inv at Tang Contemporary Art

E-inv by Tang Contemporary Art
Conference Room 1. Trial 180 x 160 cm oil on canvas 2009
Appearing only until April 3rd at the Tang Contemporary Art Center in Bangkok, E-inv features the work of Huang Yishan, Li Jianfeng, Li Wei, Qin Qi, UNMASK, Yang Na and Zhang Shuang. Curation is by Zhang Yizhou.

“This world is ordinary: everyone lives in silent; while another world is wonderful: all dreaming for it.”
“Another World” or “Another Boundary” signifies the world or boundary beyond this world we live in or boundary upon where we live. In this exhibition, anotherworldanotherboundary is a parallel world which exists in imagination, it could be the “Other World” in Buddhism such as heaven or hell; or could be “Delightful Plain” in European mythology such as the realm of the dead or the home of the deities. It could be a surreal world as in fairy tales or legends; or in movies or books; or in computer games or internets, or an utopia-like kind of world, or just the world hidden in brains or minds.
Broadly speaking, each person’s world for other person is also an “other world”. All kinds of seemingly ordinary things which people turn a blind eye to, but from another angle of view, might be very different, and might contain some existences which never been found and cognitive, or another metaphor which never been really understood.
All these “another world another boundary”, ridden by artists’ untrammeled imagination, expressed the seeking to the unknown and potential world. Or could be a kind of restoration to the world: a re-combination of some occasional and scattered information, and restore another possibility of another world.
Once entering “another world another boundary”, the imaginary world which couldn’t be defined, the world which is intangible and hard to clarify, will unfold in front of your eyes, slowly

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Kanok Suriyasat: Light-Life 2

Kanok Suriyasat: Light-Life 2
Kanok Suriyasat: Light-Life 2
Kanok Suriyasat: Light-Life 2
Kanok Suriyasat: Light-Life 2
Bangkok’s DOB Hualamphong Gallery will hold an exhibition entitled Light-Life 2 by Kanok Suriyasat from April 20th to May 20th, 2010. Kanok gave up a career as a fashion/advertising photographer as he believes that it is a sin to lie to people. Honest.
From the artists description of the exhibition:

LIGHT is the most beautiful yet the saddest. It reflects images and everything we see as if it is the origin of life.
LIFE has infinite definitions which is why it is too difficult to summarize them into words. Every one of us has our individual life which is unique and beautiful in its own way.
Kanok Suriyasat captures the immediate emotion showed right before the sound of the shutter, bearing those beauties from different moment in time and places through spectacular lifestyle, tradition and culture that will leave the viewers be touched by the sight before their eyes.

DOB Hualamphong Gallery
April 20th to May 20th, 2010

Trans-Cool TOKYO

Trans-Cool Tokyo
Trans Cool TOKYO focuses on the work of a younger generation of artists that emerged in the 1990s, led by Yoshitomo Nara. The exhibition consists of over 30 works selected from the 4000 piece-collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo divided into 3 broad themes: “… comics, science fiction, robots and the like”; “… artists who seek out new identities within the context of globalization”; and “… artists who base their work on their own personal emotions and events in everyday life”.
Backed by the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, the exhibition is being shown at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC) until March 28th.
Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC)
BTS: National Stadium

St. Marks 1986-2006

St. Marks 1986-2006
American-Swedish fashion and portrait photographer Jesper Haynes, in a solo exhibition at Bangkok’s NOSPACE gallery, shares intimate images captured over a period of 20 years in his New York apartment. Described as raw, sexy, joyful, zany and highly personal, these collages document the friends, roommates, lovers and strangers that shared the photographers life.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1962, Jesper Haynes shares his time between New York (where he is based), Bangkok, Stockholm and Tokyo.
March 4-March 28, 2010.
Nospace Gallery
21/108 Block D, Royal City Avenue (RCA) MRT: Phra Ram 9


Su Chih-Sheng a graduate of Parsons and now head of the Department of Media Communication at Shih Chien University has a solo exhibition entitled ‘Brainternet’ at VT Artsalon in Taipei until March 27th, 2010.
Su Chih-Sheng’s exhibition appears (my Chinese is failing me) to continue a discussion of the social implications of online or ‘virtual’ activity that is prevalent in Taiwan. His thesis centers on peoples virtual lives, or lives behind the screen, as being the new idealism. From his artist statement:

Brains in internet.
The cyberspace and the real world are interconnected in the year of 2010.
To live a convenient life or to make anything impossible become possible, people look for solutions to real life problems in the virtual world.
After turning on a computer, connecting to the Internet, and logging on to websites, people begin to socialize with others in the cyberspace. Without having face-to-face interactions, people find their own identity and value.
In the virtual world, the truth behind words is not valued.
What is reality? Or, is reality important at all?
Shifting between the physical world and the cyberspace, we have to keep the balance and find the center in our lives.

VT Artsalon in Taipei

Suffering By Amrit Chusuwan

Suffering By Amrit Chusuwan
Opening this week at DOB Hualamphong Gallery is Suffering the latest exhibition by Amrit Chusuwan. From the release:

The Lord Buddha’s teaching that “Suffering is one of the Four Noble Truths” is the inspiration of Amrit Chusuwan’s latest art exhibition “Suffering”. Amrit; well-known in both Thai and International art society, applies the variety of medium as well as materials such as found object, ready-made object, light box, letters, photos, motion pictures and so on to impart the profound ideas of Buddhism about suffering and its origin, misery, impurities, etc. These religious teachings are surprisingly and finely blended with the contemporary art and its various ways of presentation which the artist succeeds to pass on his ideas and mesmerized the audience by his constructive process of thinking.

February 25th to March 28th, 2010
DOB Hualamphong Gallery
DOB Building 4F, 318 Rama 4 Rd.,

Denim 101: Fundamentals of Jeans

what is denim
Appearing until the end of this month at the Thailand Creative & Design Center the “Denim 101: Fundamentals of Jeans exhibition presents the story of denim: from its origin, characteristics, and unique qualities, to how it became the jeans we know and love today. Ten creative production techniques are illustrated through manufacturing tools and samples from top global and local brands such as PRPS, Edwin, Diesel and Dior Homme”.
I recently had the pleasure of viewing this small showcase and if you have an interest in materials in general or jeans in particular it’s a recommended diversion. More from the TCDC:

The history of jeans goes back for hundreds of years and they are still popular today in the form of trousers made from cotton twill textile called “denim”.
Because of the ruggedness, jeans were initially used as uniforms for blue collar workers and soldiers. Over time, they became a clothing item of choice for people all over the world and have always evolved to keep up with fashion trends. Designers worldwide are finding ways to create a selling factor and a unique identity for their brands, including using modern technology or bringing back traditional tools and methods of manufacturing. These different strategies differentiate the origins and classifications of each brand.

Until February 28th, 2010
TCDC Resource Center
TCDC, 6th Fl., The Emporium Shopping Complex
10.30 – 21.00 (Closed Mondays)

Urban Nomad Film Fest

Urban Nomad Film Fest
The Urban Nomad Film Fest is now accepting entries for its ninth annual festival, set to take place in Taipei and Hsinchu starting April 30, 2010. I haven’t attended their events in the past but since it looks like I’ll be in town this year I’m excited to have the opportunity to view some interesting film. The emphasis on conversation lubricated by a bar will make the event more interesting.

Urban Nomad Film Fest is the oldest and best known underground film festival in Taiwan. It was founded in Taipei in 2002, and the ongoing project is to create a community-oriented film environment and put an end to the impersonal ‘black box’ movie theater environment where hundreds of people can watch films without really interacting with each other. We tend to hold festival screenings and events in warehouses, outdoor spaces and converted spaces, rather than traditional film theaters. Peripheral events include concerts, parties, discussion seminars and directors talks.

Deadline to submit feature length films is March 10th. They do accept international entries so they is an excellent excuse to visit Taiwan if your entry is accepted.
Urban Nomad Film Fest