Bukruk Street Art Festival is taking place until March 17 and features indoor and outdoor exhibitions at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) and nearby areas. Living Arts Festival runs from February 27 to March 10 at Ratchaprasong intersection, and will highlight street paintings that play with your perspective.
What do these two events signify? Well, it seems there's no stopping street art from going mainstream, and it's painting its way across Bangkok. To get you into an art-loving mood, we explore the different sides of art on the streets in this fair city.
Besides street sites designated for the various festivals (more on them later in this article), we've trekked from BTS to MRT routes and beyond to seek out unofficial galleries of wall paintings and graffiti. Check them out and have a little adventure in the process. (Note: some pieces will change from time of print, as is custom.)
Opposite Lat Phrao Soi43, an old stretch of wall bears a collaborative effort of well-known graffiti artist Alex Face and his friends. His signature three-eyed baby is laying there.
Find Na Ranong intersection in Klong Toey district and walk towards Klong Toey market. This cool mural covers one side of a shophouse. It definitely brightens up the street but does nothing to improve the smell, though.
WORD ON THE STREET
We ask artists and non-artists to comment on different aspects of street art.
On what makes street art fascinating
"A work becomes fascinating when it becomes part of an environment or a place. Each place has its own story and it allows an artist to represent it through a work. The other fascinating aspect of street art is its transient nature. Its creator has no control over its outcome or longevity. It's subject to weather and can be gone when someone else places their work over it. To me, that's what makes it special. I take photos of my street work as much as possible when I finish."
- Pharuephon "Mamafaka" Mukdasanit, graphic designer, street artist and participant at Bukruk Street Art Festival
On doing graffiti the Thai way
"Most graffiti works in Thailand are influenced by hip hop culture but, personally, I think what graffiti means can differ from one country to another. Thailand is a place where you can do graffiti easily because no one pays much attention to abandoned walls or buildings. People here are usually kind-hearted and you can explain to them what you're doing [and they will let you be]. Many times [while creating graffiti], the locals gave me food as a thank you for creating someting beautiful for their community. There were times when I got in trouble but they are very few by comparison. Having said that, graffiti can be a sensitive matter. It depends on what kind of graffiti you create, where you create it and what it gives to the community. If you try to create something positive, I believe good things will come out of it. If you spray to be destructive, problems may find you. It's up to you how you want to take graffiti."
- Alex Face, graffiti artist and participant at Bukruk Street Art Festival
On doing street art with your own twist
"Street art, in a literal sense, means artwork on the street to me. And art comes in different forms - images that portray stories, abstract images, graffiti artwork and so on. I came up with the one-block stencil technique to do something no one else had done before. I use basic patterns that I cut out of my medium and spray colour on them to create images [with a low-res feel] on walls and this makes my works unique. I enjoy creating my works like I'm playing with Lego blocks. The value of street art depends on what the artist wants to convey. The work can carry a message that corresponds with the location or communicate with viewers by itself. We should be open to all types of art."
- Rukkit Kuanhawate, graphic designer, street artist and participant at Bukruk Street Art Festival
On street art and people
"Street art is fascinating because artists use their chosen medium to express their idea in spaces that artworks aren't conventionally seen in. Their works take place outside the confinements of a room or gallery. Street artists use public spaces. To me, street art can be creating images on surfaces, installation, performance, music and more. Today organisations and firms have created activities around street art culture to draw attention, which is not necessarily a bad thing."
- Nikan "Bow" Wasinondh, co-organiser of Bukruk and curator and co-director of BKK Arthouse Gallery
On graffiti and the city
"I view graffiti as an art form and real graffiti shouldn't make the city less beautiful. If elected, I would allow only those who are qualified enough to create graffiti at designated venues, not at abandoned buildings. I don't want to restrict street art and we should organise festivals to encourage it."
- Suharit Siamwalla, a candidate for Bangkok Governor and managing director of DHA Siamwalla
On graffiti and the country
"Graffiti has been embraced by society more in recent years. Graffiti events and competitions have been held regionally and internationally while our neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore have started providing designated spaces for sanctioned graffiti and state-sponsored graffiti competitions. I really wish those in power here would pay more attention to graffiti because, if we do it the right way, young people who want to do graffiti can do it without exposing themselves to risk and danger."
- M, administrator of graffiti website www.bkkgraff.com
Bukruk Street Art Festival
MORE ART ON THE STREET
Here is a summary of all you need to know about three major street art events.
Bukruk/Thai-European Connection street art festival has already begun, seeing an outdoor exhibition of wall paintings at Siam Square, Ratchathewi, Khlong Saen Saep (near Hua Chang bridge), and Rama VI. These works are done on site by 27 artists - 11 Thai, 16 European. Big local names include Alex Face, Mamafaka and P7. Tomorrow (Feb 23) will be the first day of an indoor exhibition at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (4/F, BTS National Stadium). Over 400sqm will be transformed into a concept store offering printed T-shirts, original prints, and paintings on small objects. Visit bukruk.com or facebook.com/ Bukrukstreetartfestival for more information.
Living Arts Festival at Ratchaprasong 2013 will take place from Feb 27-Mar 10, highlighting street paintings that play with your perspective and allow you to become part of them. In all, 19 international artists will create their works at 10 spots, 12-40sqm in size. They are located in front of Gaysorn, InterContinental Bangkok, Amarin Plaza and Erawan Bangkok as well as on the Skywalk from BTS Chidlom to the entrance of Zen department store. Nine artists will also perform living statues. For more information, go to heartofbangkok.com, facebook.com/HeartOfBangkok, or download the Ratchaprasong application free on Apple devices.
Besides the capital of Thailand, street art is also thriving in major provinces. Take Ratchaburi's Tid Sin Bon Ratchaburi 2: We are the City as an example. The free outdoor exhibition will take place at a space next to the river on Woradet Road from tomorrow (Feb 23) to Mar 16. Works by Alex Face, Mamafaka, Rukkit, Bon and more will be displayed.G
About the author
- Writer: Pornchai Sereemongkonpol
Position: Guru Reporter