In the run-up to the first of Bangkok's 2018 biennials, we check out the lesser-known galleries of the local art world.
Venture down to the hinterlands of Naradhiwas Road and you’ll come to N22, a budding creative space comprising art galleries and artist studios that includes Gallery VER. It’s also home to this little project from curator-artist-gallerist Angkrit Ajchariyasophon, who also founded Angkrit Gallery in Chiang Rai. Artist+Run acts as “a living room where artists are invited to present their work.” Since opening in 2016 the space has featured abstract painting exhibitions by local big names, debuting with an exhibition from abstract painter and sculptor Thaiwijit Puengkasemsomboon titled “Rebirth of the Cool.”
Past exhibition highlights: “Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire” by Tawan Wattuya (Feb 25-Mar 25, 2018), “Nowadays” by Somyot Hananuntasuk (Nov 11-Dec 20, 2017)
Current exhibition: “Clay Courage” by Somluk Pantiboon (Apr 21-May 18, 2018)
2198/10-11 Narathiwas Soi 22, 099-454-5955. Open daily 1pm-6pm www.artistrun2016.com
BK: How did the art space come about?
Angkrit: I first started Angkrit Gallery in Chiang Rai in 2008. In 2016, Jirat Ratthawongjirakul, who manages Gallery VER, asked me to check out the space in Narathiwas Soi 22 [N22]. I thought the area had an interesting community vibe as there are many art galleries here, and it’s in a convenient location.
How do you curate your exhibitions?
It’s purely based on my personal taste. I like many styles of art, but my favorite is abstract painting. I never planned out what “style” of a gallery Artist+Run should be, I just wanted to showcase the artwork that I like.
What improvements would you like to see in the Thai art world?
More diversity. Artists should have more freedom of expression. I’d also like to see more art spaces spread out towards other provinces around Thailand, not just in big, major cities. I’d like to see more support for contemporary art from the government, and also more improvements of art museums for educational purposes. Am I wanting too much under the junta?
Tucked in an unlikely space on the ground floor of the luxury Baan Somthavil complex, this super-sleek and minimal white cube comes from Sutima Sucharitakul, who opened Nova Contemporary after living in London and New York (she has a gig at the Museum of Modern Art [MOMA] and The Met under her belt). Her gallery specializes in contemporary art, exhibiting the work of both Thai and international artists, as well as offering educational talks from well- established artists and collectors.
Past exhibition highlights: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Kate Moss by British light artist Chris Levine (Jul 13-Sep 22, 2016), “Splashed” by Kawita Vatanajyankur (Oct 20-Dec 24, 2017)
Current exhibition: “Neither Body nor Soul” by Nipan Oranniwesna (Mar 10-May 13, 2018)
Mahadlek Luang Soi 3, Rajdamri Rd., 090-910-6863. Open Tue-Sun 11am-7pm www.novacontemporary.com
BK: How did the art space come about?
Sutima: Around two years ago, when I came back to Bangkok after 10 years living between the US and England, I felt that there was a lot of growing interest in contemporary art in Thailand. The location here had been vacant for many years, so I thought I should turn it into something useful since the space is located right in the city.
What’s so unique about your space?
We feature international exhibitions by artists from America, Europe and Southeast Asia, and if possible we also want to work with artists from China and Japan. But our priority is to collaborate with Thai artists. Also, our exhibitions are not only for commercial purposes. We also want them to be educational, like our current exhibition, “Neither Body nor Soul” by Nipan Oranniwesna.
Who comes here?
Most of our visitors are young Bangkok people like university students who are interested in art and culture. For buyers and collectors, it’s mostly foreigners.
How has Bangkok’s art scene changed in the past few years?
There have been a lot of improvements actually. The art industry is like a food chain. We already have many talented Thai artists, and we have a better gallery system where buyers buy art directly from the gallery, not from the artists. I think artists and galleries have a more professional working relationships with one another too. There will also be more private art museums opening in the near future, which will help the general audience better understand the purpose of collecting art.
What improvements would you like to see in the Thai art industry?
I’d like to see more museums, especially big-scale ones that are supported by the government. I also want to see more cooperation between artists and art galleries. I want international audiences to see that we—the Thai art industry—take things seriously.
Nestled near the BACC, right beside the Sansab Canal, Yelo House has transformed a 1967 publishing house into a 480-sq-meter, two-story hub of art and design, featuring a gallery, co-working space, studio and cafe. Run by a team of creative types—Hans Werner Muller (creative director of HWM consultancy firm), Salyawate Prasertwitayakarn (aco-founder of Atelier of Architects), Suwanni Suwansaengroj (of Chamni’s Eye Production house) and Tanat Singhasuwit (photographer)—the gallery mainly features illustration exhibitions by young Thai artists like Suntur, Tikkywow and Man Kawee, as well as hosting talks and workshops. We spoke to Fatin Phimpharb, project manager at Yelo House.
Past exhibitions (highlights): “Zero Decibel” by Suntur (Feb 28-Apr 7, 2018), “Hello Circus” by Caracasan (Apr 21-29, 2018)
Current exhibition: "Flip the Fan," a group art exhibition curated by Hongtae (May 4-27, 2018)
20/2 Kasemsan Soi 1, Rama 1 Rd., 098-469-5924. Open Mon 11am-8pm, Wed-Sun 11am-8pm. www.yelohouse.com
BK: How did the space come about?
Fatin: It was Salyawate who, after having lived in the condominium opposite the old warehouse for over 20 years, developed a deep affection for its amazing design. In early 2017, he and the other three partners renovated the warehouse into a creative space.
What’s so unique about your space?
With its airy structure, industrial features, yellow steel girders, dark gray walls and smudges on the floors, our space is unlike typical galleries, which are usually a rectangular room with four white, minimal walls to make the artwork stand out. With that said, Yelo House may not be suitable for all kinds of art. Exhibitions here must come from the artists’ fearlessness to think outside of the box, to be challenged by our unique exhibition space. One of the highlights of exhibiting artwork here is our seven-meter-high gallery hall, where artists can showcase art pieces as tall as five meters. We also create unique snacks for each exhibition from our restaurant “Hungry Me & Thirsty You.”
Who is your target audience?
We want all Thai people to know that art appreciation is not difficult. Art is always around us. We want them to feel that art is understandable and not something that is far fetched. Another target audience of ours is the young generation who is interested in collecting art. Yelo House features a wide range of art at affordable prices. We want our visitors to feel that owning art is not out of reach.
Do you think there’s been a growth of interest in the local art scene?
Bangkok’s art scene has grown significantly this year – we have Galleries Night, Bangkok Design Week, Bangkok Art Biennale, and many other art events. This shows that Bangkokians are starting to open up and approach art more. But if we compare ourselves to other countries, we are still at an early stage and we have a long road ahead of us. There’s a lot of fun waiting for us to grow our art industry to the international level. We would like to see Thai artists being recognized both in Thailand and internationally, and that Thai people are proud and supportive of fellow Thai artists.
Sitting above Thonglor’s upmarket vegetarian restaurant, Broccoli Revolution, this art space has a socially conscious slant. Its partners include Manipa Jayawan, chairperson of Bangkok University Gallery, and Naya Ehrlich-Adam, of Broccoli Revolution, as well as Sakson Rouypirom, who also founded the Sati nonprofit organization. In collaboration with Sati, the art space provides an outlet for learning multidisciplinary subjects through exhibitions and activities for the public. Other than showcasing contemporary art, Case Space Revolution also hosts workshops, talks, and documentary nights. We spoke to Manita.
Past exhibitions (highlights): “Mirror Sale” by Liam Morgan (Mar-Apr 30, 2017), “Mokutan” by Lolay (Nov 23, 2017-Jan 14, 2018)
Current exhibition: “Objectiveland” by Tua Pen Not (Apr 19-May 31, 2018)
2/F, Broccoli Revolution, 899 Sukhumvit Soi 49, 02-662-5002. Open Tue-Sun 11am-7pm. www.fb.com/casespacerevolution
BK: How did the art space come about?
Manipa: Naya and I have been long-time friends and both wanted to open an art space, so we decided that we should create something together. This was all before Broccoli Revolution had opened.
How do you position yourself as a gallery?
We’re more of an art space than a gallery. We give creative types the freedom to come and experiment with new ideas. Most importantly we want this place to be a multi-disciplinary space for art, design and even architecture. We are very open to fun and exciting projects of all types.
What are you looking for in work?
We feel that sometimes other spaces like to feature artworks that have a really deep, heavy context behind them, which creates a gap between art enthusiasts who like to come to art galleries and the ordinary people who are not familiar or interested in art, making the latter group feel unconfident to come see art. So whenever we curate exhibitions, we want to showcase artworks that are a bit more easy to understand and digest.
How has the Bangkok art scene changed over the past few years, and what improvements would you like to see?
Bangkok’s art scene is pretty lively right now. There are so many new art galleries popping up, which shows that we are going in a good direction. But I want to see more balance between demand and supply. While currently there are many artists producing their art and there are an increasing number of collectors, we still need to find a way to educate them on the purpose of art collecting, such as how to preserve the value of these works.
Also Check out these Underground Art Projects
9/F, 891/1 Siam Motors, Rama 1 Rd., 02-215-3507. www.fb.com/echooneartspace
Kalwit Studio & Gallery
Neighborhood: Phloen Chit
119/14 Ruamruedee Soi 2, Wireless Rd., 02-254-4629. www.kalwitgallery.com
Neighborhood: Si Phraya-Sam Yan
41/40 Sunthonphimol, Banthat Thong Rd., 081-921-3403. www.facebook.com/humbleprojects
The Ferry Gallery
Neighborhood: Phra Nakorn
Tha Tien Pier, Maha Rat Rd. Phra Nakorn, 082-491-4242. www.theferrygallery.com
Neighborhood: Phra Khanong
10/3 Sukhumvit Soi 67, 099-736-8672. www.fb.com/tarsgallery
38-42 Soi Nana (behind Teens of Thailand).