Curating a global gallery

Astrid Amaya and Alejandro Garcia-Amaya kick off their TV reality show with a look at upcoming Thai artists

For Astrid Amaya and her son Alejandro Garcia-Amaya, art started out as a hobby. While Amaya _ wife of HE Andelfo Garcia Gonzales, the Colombian ambassador to Thailand _ has been travelling the globe for the past 25 years meeting artists and collecting artworks, for her son it was a trip back home that led him to switch from finance to the art world.

"I had an interesting experience when I went back to Colombia after a 12-year absence," said Garcia-Amaya. "During my time there, I reconnected with my family, reconnected with my roots, my culture, and by the time I returned to the US, I told my mother that even though I enjoyed finance, I wanted to do something that allowed me to talk about our own culture as well as to learn about other people's cultures."

His mother asked him if he would like to join her and "use art as a vehicle that allows people to learn about other cultures by viewing works from completely different regions and countries".

Together they founded AOTArt, a firm that represents artists from various countries and uses their works to produce cultural exhibitions with major corporations across the US.

"We just feel that art is a powerful medium that enables people to really learn about other communities and cultures," said Garcia-Amaya.

"Especially when you get to share who that artist is and where they are from and why they did that particular work. The more you get to share those stories, the more you get to understand. That's pretty much how the organisation came together."

Having travelled the world together for some time, getting to know the artists and collecting works, they felt that it was time to put their experience on TV.

"All of our friends that knew what we did and all our clients heard our story of the countries that we have been to," said Garcia-Amaya. "And many times people would say, 'Why don't you just film it? You should just bring a camera'."

With his father being appointed Colombia's ambassador to Thailand early this year, they have decided to find Thai artists for the first of 12 episodes of The Amaya ArtVentures, a reality show on art, before moving on to other countries.

"I feel like art is the final product and you can appreciate it as much as you like and it's a beautiful experience on its own," said Garcia-Amaya. "But about 90% of it _ who the artist is, how this came about, how was that artist inspired _ all those things are missing and that's what we want to talk about on TV. We want to go behind the scenes of the art world and the journey is to find these very talented artists that haven't been exposed. The whole show is based on the process of us going to particular countries and capturing artists' lives and stories."

Amaya added that the project is not only going to benefit the Thai art scene, but also Bangkok and the country as well.

"When you talk about Thailand, you don't hear so much about Thai art," said Amaya. "You may hear about the temples but not about the art, so it is a good opportunity to put Thai art on the table. Bangkok has the infrastructure to start promoting art. You have very good artists. It's just a push to put the art in the minds of people" For the first episode, which will be filmed in December, they are looking for three emerging Thai painters who not only produce outstanding work but also have inspiring life stories.

And although they have set up a research team to find emerging artists that have been getting recognition and doing a number of things on their own, and even visited some in their studios, they have yet to find ideal candidates.

"There are many different media that we look at," explained Garcia-Amaya. "Artists that use all sorts of medium, it doesn't have to be canvas. We don't look at artists that do three-dimensional works like installations or sculptures or any of that. We don't focus on that, so it's got to be an artist that is doing unique things that they can call their own. Artists that are original, doing their own work, and that's pretty much it."


Interested artists can send in statements of intent and six photos of recent works to juandiego@aotaart.com. The deadline is Oct 15. Visit www.AOTAart.com for details.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Kaona Pongpipat
Position: Writer for the Life section