Bangkok is the lively creative and cultural capital of the colorful Thailand. But does the art and museum scene of the town actually reflect the colorfulness of its country?
With its 8.2 million inhabitants on 1,569 square km, uncountable skyscrapers, busy markets and smelly restaurants, Bangkok is working on its role in the South Eastern artistic scene. The local environment appears undoubtedly diverse, as its numerous and varied districts.
The city hosts international artists, festivals and creative events, while building a stable inner and outer network. At the same time, museums both devote to new contemporary research and exhibit sublime and very strange collections.
Leader of the more traditional path is probably the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC), located two steps away from Siam Square. Its look is consistent with the Western institutional directions, featuring white curving space and spiral walkways with a Guggenheim effect. The space exhibits both national and international projects, artists and designers, performance and musical events. It is essentially a polyhedral space and, in a city that’s a huge open sky market like Bangkok, the first two floors of the building offer inevitably also food and shops, among galleries. At the top floor curators propose rotating exhibitions. In February and March 2017, an interesting and pretty significant project displays the blacks and whites of the Brazilian artist Sebastião Salgado. A minimalistic set up is able to perfectly fit a curvilinear space with portraits of manual laborers, faces, hands, details, mob scenes and spaces, shooted from the 80s on.
From a broader perspective, at a first glance, the Bangkok art scene could seem to strongly focus on street art. Particularly, the local artist Alex Face is well appreciated all over the town. His iconic three-eyed character dominates indeed one façade of the BACC, while the well-known City City Gallery (in the district of Silom) is hosting since December 2016 his solo exhibition.
Creative events are hosted all over the year and all over the town. The Gallery Weekend takes place on the first weekend of February and, despite the updated dimension of the initiative, the vast size of the city doesn’t really fit the concept of a “galleries district”.
Like every art capital, a lively art and crafts market can’t be missing. ArtBox (with a particular Pop-up structure), taking place on weekend evenings, collects local design products, affordable handmade items, together of course with unfailing vintage fashion and food trucks.
Probably the most creative and lovable art space in town, at least to me, is the MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art. Decentralized in the North of the city, still not particularly touristic and built just in 2012, it is able to surprise the visitors from the outside till the top of its vertical development at the 5th floor. With a deep devotion of the museum to the collection of the magnate Bengharongkui, artists are divided into thematic areas; installations and habitable spaces are not lacking.
Museum spaces narrate also stories of everyday life, of ordinary and not. Totally consistent to the colorfulness of the country, Bangkok’s Folk Museum collects testimonies of a unique heritage and the Human Imagery Museum displays realistic scenes of Thai life and culture. But to surprise you, Bangkok visitors can enjoy a remarkable vast collection of shells by the Bangkok Shell Museum or a very large toy gathering at Batcat Museum.
With still dozens of remarkable projects and artistic locations, such as the National Gallery, the Jim Thompson House and the H Gallery, the Thai capital answers different questions about the art scene. Some locations are more Western-oriented, some others tend to prize local artists. The trends generally reflect the ones of an international capital, but leaving space for a diverse – and kitschy – intrusion into creativity.