Feddersen opens a portal for Thai artists

New gallery 338 Oida aims to pull in international collectors

As an owner of the newly established 338 Oida Gallery, Rene Anant Feddersen surprises those who look into his past, as it includes business, philosophy and mathematics.

"I've been an art collector for many years," says Feddersen. "I turned 40 last year. When I turned 39, I surfaced for myself a lot of big questions about what I want to spend the rest of my life doing."

Feddersen was born and raised in Thailand, but has lived in five different countries. After completing a vocational degree in business he spent time working as a commodities trader in Europe like his father, but soon realised it wasn't what he wanted for a career.

Feddersen decided to attend university at a small liberal arts college with a classics curriculum in Sante Fe, US. Although Feddersen did not complete this degree, he believes this learning experience opened up his mind in a different way, and he soon found himself passionate about modern philosophy and the arts.

The decision to open the 338 Oida Gallery was heavily influenced by the support and encouragement of a close friend. One of the objectives behind the gallery is to expand the audience of contemporary art both in Thailand and overseas. Feddersen's gallery is in no way explicitly confined to Thai art, but he would like to see a growth in the number of Thai contemporary art collectors. At present, Feddersen says he could count the number on one hand _ but he's positive about the future.

"Within the next two to three years, we're going to see a very rapid growth in interest," says Feddersen.

The gallery's opening exhibition in November last year was aptly titled "Opening", featuring works from the likes of Rirkrit Tiravanija and Mitr Jai-inn.

"Opening can mean so many things," he said. "It's an opening for myself and the artists. I also hope it's an opening for Thai arts."

Feddersen plans to exhibit at least four established and four budding artists each year. He feels that within this industry, the relationships between gallery owners and the artists they represent should be what matters most, and that this fact "separates the great galleries from the average ones".

"I'd like to be considered positively on that matrix," he explains.

Feddersen says that his involvement with the writers, artists and curators gives him a great lens into the world behind arts as mere physicality.

"There's so much more than just owning the art," explains Feddersen. "These groups of people are extremely intelligent, very well read, with a broad knowledge base beyond the art into all forms of culture and anthropology."

Feddersen plans to dedicate his next two exhibition spaces to solo artists, but he says the nature of what his gallery features will be constantly evolving.

"I don't really exercise a lot of control myself," says Feddersen. "I like to let things develop."

One of the ways 338 Oida has developed is through the "hive" of people involved in the art world. This network extends out to those who teach and mentor budding artists at universities.

"Things are moving pretty quickly," says Feddersen of his team, which currently includes himself, a gallery assistant, and an accountant. "We'll eventually get more space.

"The great promise of Thai art, in my mind, will be when there is an international community of collectors paying more attention, and I think we're right on the cusp."

The 338 Oida Gallery is located on the 4th Floor of the Pongamorn Building, Sathon. The opening exhibition will be on display until Feb 28. More details can be found at www.338oidagallery.com

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Writer: Bernadette Morabito