Hotel Art Fair returns with the goal of launching a cultural renaissance in Thailand
The Hotel Art Fair is likely to attract visitors, collectors and gallerists with its wide range of displays from 28 art galleries, music performances, fashion, furniture and discussion groups. Held at The Standard Mahanakhon from today until Sunday, the seventh edition of the fair, organised by Farmgroup, will be launched with the theme "New".
Varinda Thienachariya, co-founder of the fair, said to match with the theme, many galleries will present works by emerging artists or new artworks from established artists. Another co-founder, Vorathit Kruavanichkit, said the fair will encourage people to venture out of their comfort zones. For example, artists will perform as DJs. Vararin Sinchai, also a co-founder, added that the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic makes people feel that they have been given a new lease on life and can return to the activities they used to do.
Farmgroup, a design consultancy firm, co-created and organised the fair's first edition in 2013 in order to serve a hotel client. The unique character of Hotel Art Fair means pieces appear in hotel rooms, restrooms, on beds or other furniture and in closets. The location of the hotel also changes every year.
"A hotel client requested us to create a special event for a small audience, not for the public at large. Thus, we thought about showcasing art pieces in the hotel rooms. Nine years ago, audiences were limited. At that time, we thought the fair would be a one-time thing. However, the event was a huge success," Vorathit explained.
Varinda added: "As a design consultancy firm, we use many facilities of the art community. We feel that Hotel Art Fair is suitable for our firm and we should run this kind of event to pay back to the art community."
Life spoke to the fair's three co-founders -- Varinda, Vararin and Vorathit -- about the upcoming event.
From left, Vararin Sinchai, Varinda Thienachariya and Vorathit Kruavanichkit, co-founders of Hotel Art Fair. (Photo: Hotel Art Fair)
Has the target audience of the Hotel Art Fair changed since 2013?
Varinda: At the first edition, there were hotel guests, designers, art enthusiasts and our colleagues in the design industry. Target audiences are wider each year. The Hotel Art Fair is held in a hotel where people feel comfortable to visit, whereas some people feel intimidated to visit art galleries. We had residential housing developers come to the event and they purchased pieces to decorate their projects. The event also encourages people to become art collectors because visitors can meet and talk to artists about the ideas behind their pieces. This helps visitors to be more interested in art and make some purchases. Students are also interested in the Hotel Art Fair, especially art students who come to speak with artists and learn about their career path from professionals.
How did you feel about organising the Hotel Art Fair after a two-year hiatus?
Vorathit: The fair is a social and lifestyle event, so it must be an onsite event. However, this could not be held for two years due to the pandemic. We are delighted and thrilled to organise it again. The art industry has changed a lot. Currently, there are art spaces even in cafés. I am excited to see who will come to Hotel Art Fair. Will many visitors be from the new generations?
A painting by Shiori Saito from Kobayashi Gallery. (Photo: Shiori Saito)
Why did you choose The Standard Mahanakhon as a location?
Vorathit: Executives of the hotel appreciate art, so they are open for creativity. They are willing to work with us to decorate the hotel and put art pieces in place. Some hotels do not allow us to move even a coffee table, but The Standard Mahanakhon understands what we are doing.
How did you come up with the idea of guest celebrity curators?
Varinda: We had guest celebrity curators since the fair's first edition. This year, our guest curators are Rika Dila, Vasu Virajsilp and Juthathum Chirathivat. We want to present various angles of art. These celebrity curators collect pieces of both local and international artists. Their collections are different from galleries. At the event, they will present their collections, how they preserve and organise their collections, and share why they decided to purchase those pieces. Collections are not limited to only fine art. One guest curator will showcase their art toys.
Abstract painting by Pomme Chan. (Photo: PommeChan)
What are some of the highlights from the 28 art galleries?
Varinda: There are international galleries in Asia such as Artemis Art (Malaysia), Core Design (Malaysia), Kobayashi Gallery (Japan), Gallery Kunimatsu (Japan) and Chimeem Art (China). Visitors will experience pieces from international artists. International gallerists also want to experience the art scene in Bangkok and view work by Thai artists to further their business. In this case, Hotel Art Fair is like an exchange of culture and also kind of a head-hunting event.
There are many art events. What makes Hotel Art Fair unique?
Varinda: Visitors from previous events gave feedback that the fair had a lot of visitors, buyers and galleries. The event offers a variety of activities that can reach people of all ages. Because of this, universities contacted us to organise field trips for their students as well.
Can you tell us more about Art Tank Talk?
Vorathit: Art Tank Talk is an interesting series of discussions with younger generations. For example, the topic 'Trend Of Thai Art Investment' will be discussed by Sermkhun Kunawong, chief executive of CMO which is a creative event management company, and the artist Konthorn "Hongtae" Taecholarn. The topic 'Gen Of Art Toys' will be discussed by Pint Anupong, founder of Carnival and the owner of J.P. Toys Gallery.
Insomnia Series – Things To Come by Apichatpong Weerasethakul from Gallery Seescape. (Photo: Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
What are some challenges you faced when organising the fair?
Varinda: The Hotel Art Fair is a long-awaited and much anticipated event. The challenge is how we will manage traffic during the event.
Vorathit: We are worried that there will be a huge crowd. We would like to have a lot of visitors because we want everyone to access the art, but it would be better if visitors come at different times.
How is the Thai art industry compared to other countries in Asia?
Varinda: Compared to Hong Kong and Singapore, Thailand still has many obstacles. We may be able to move forward more if some rules are lifted. For example, Hong Kong has no tax on art purchases. If Thai artists exhibit their works in Hong Kong, clients can immediately receive their purchased art free of tax. Singapore has a GST tax of 7%, but art pieces can be stored in a bonded warehouse and be taken out without additional payment of tax.
A painting from Chimeem Art in China. (Photo: Farmgroup)
What is your expectation for Hotel Art Fair 2022?
Vararin: I hope that there will be transactions, so artists and galleries can make a living. I hope the event will have a positive impact on the economy of Thailand.
Varinda: There are not many art museums in Thailand. We hope that Hotel Art Fair will be an alternative for people to broaden their perspective of the world of art.
Hotel Art Fair will run at The Standard Mahanakhon until Sunday. Free admission. Please note, today will open for art collectors, serious buyers and press only. The remaining days will open for the public. For more information about activities and list of art galleries, visit hotelartfair.com and facebook.com/HotelArtFair.