Odd mediums at the forefront
A new venue opens for gallery owners, exhibitors, critics and journalists to converse
From pixelated photographs, to paintings on photographic paper and sculptures carved into wooden chopping boards, this month's art scene is a delightful experience — even the mediums just mentioned themselves have much to say.
Despite there hardly ever being a weekend in Bangkok without a new gallery opening, there are a handful of new ones that are worth checking out this month.
The latest is YenarkArt Villa, a new gallery by Frederic Meyer and Jeremy Opitresco. Following on from their Namsaah Bottling Trust restaurant, this new venue in Soi Prasat Suk, Yen Akat Road, is the second time the duo have launched a project together, and it isn't an entirely different enterprise altogether. They plan to feature a new exhibition every month with each opening to be accompanied by a sit-down dinner by a guest chef paired with a wine tasting in which around 20 guests — exhibited artists, gallery owners, critics, journalists, etc — are invited to join in conversation.
Influenced by the European 1930s avant-garde architecture, the building of YenarkArt, with its impressive glass façade which faces a 600m² garden is currently hosting a group show comprised of French and Thai artists. Whilst French artist ORGEoner has rendered the wall on the left cheerful with his gliding naga made of graffiti collaged with paintings, Maitree Siriboon's fans shouldn't miss his photographs of buffaloes, their skin bearing reproductions of paintings by Miro and Klimt.
Kalwit Studio & Gallery and S Gallery at Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit have been around for quite a while but it's the first time they are putting on new and solid shows.
In a converted house nestled in Soi Ruam Rudi 2, Kalwit Studio & Gallery's current show "Wood-Could" (until July 21) features 20 Thai and international artists who were each given wooden chopping boards and small square wood blocks, and urged to come up with whatever they wanted. Gallery owner and curator Wal Chirachaisakul said that the project coincided with the timing of a house being finished and there being plenty of unused wood left. He added that the chopping boarding is not only interesting in terms of how it is man-made but still of nature, the form itself serves really well as a canvas.
The highlight is of course an arrangement of 20 chopping boards placed together. The position of each has been fixed from the very beginning and it's enjoyable to see different stories and techniques being locked up together with such intimacy, sometimes complementing and at other times clashing with its neighbouring piece.
While most of the pieces feature paintings on the wooden boards, for Untitled Face Timothy Cooper has carved his befuddled looking character down into the wooden board. Other striking pieces include Ekawat Wimonkaew's Red House in which a small ladder and a plastic animal doll demonstrate a somewhat strange and otherworldly scene and Thanwin Kamyeam's Burn in which he has simply burned lines into the wooden board.
Although the project by Tootyung Art Center is currently on hold, its artistic director Myrtille Tibayrenc was nonetheless engaged quite deeply in her artistic endeavours, hers being one of the most solid pieces in Wood-Could.
"I thought desire was well illustrated by fire," said Tibayrenc. "So I set the cubes on fire and used the ashes to paint."
Her 15 paintings arranged together are of Thai gay men kissing and it was intriguing to her because it almost appears to be the same person kissing himself in every one of them.
Some tend to have qualms about the art spaces or exhibitions found inside department stores or hotels as the art displayed in these places is often seen as decorative collections, used solely for commercial purposes or to promote the place itself. This is definitely not the case with the new S Gallery at Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit and its current show "Out Of Curiosity" (until Sept 6) by French artist Bruno Tanquerel.
While his portraits of women using oil on printed canvas look rather typical, some of the more personal pieces like Dinner Time, showing four roughly-painted faces around a table, are impressively honest and heartfelt. The most striking part of the show is the oil-on-photographic paper series. Possibly because of the glossy surface of the paper, the mysterious women in Tanquerel's Delivery or Nina have a distorted and ever-moving look similar to that of portraits by Francis Bacon.
In the case of the pixelated photograph by Lek Kiatsirikajorn, this marks one of the most strangely captivating shows currently on view in the capital.
Entitled "Detour Of The Ego" (until July 4), it is housed on the fourth floor at Bangkok University Gallery. On entering, you will find one big pixelated photograph of an 18th century French marble statue which is displayed at the Louvre.
There are a series of backlit shots of mountains which you have to mount a step to see. There are also a scattering of photographs around a column in which there are layers of glass panes, making it seem like a bottomless hole.
With the support of the Embassy of France and the Institut Français, the body of work, produced during Lek's three-month residency in Paris, is an enigmatic set of three installations, evoking in the viewer a feeling that the pieces are somehow connected but with no way of pinning down why. Through not specifying the title of this Louvre statue, and by taking the shot from behind and having it pixelated, Lek devalues the object in a way that makes the viewers' experience of seeing it is a somewhat humbling one.
On the opposite wall, one has to look closely to see that these series of shots of mountains are not the same. Looking close enough past the blackening effect of the backlit shots, each mountain starts to reveal its unique undulating surface. Finally, the last part of the installation is a repeated set of photographs around a column filled with glass panes. The photos include views of a public park, a shot of a shopping trolley, two men posing by a graffitied wall, and that of a cemetery.
Standing on a chair provided and looking down on the seemingly endless pit, we get the feeling that Lek's experience, or what he wants us to experience, is baffling and grim.
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Pixelated image of an 18th century French marble sculpture from the Louvre by Lek Kiatsirikajorn.
Bruno Tanquerel's Dinner Time.