An interview with Gongkan.
For anyone who dreams of sacking in the day job to become an artist overseas, Kantapon “Gong” Metheekul, 28, did exactly that. Once your typical ad-agency creative, he moved to New York to pursue a fine-art career, where he earned a reputation for his “sticker bombs”—stick-figure creations climbing out of dark holes that he would stick up all around the city. Currently back in Bangkok, his work under the name Gongkan is the subject of two exhibitions—one on Siam Discovery’s third floor and the other at Warehouse 30—where you can catch his minimal, street art-inspired drawings.
Can you tell us about your exhibitions in Bangkok?
I wanted to work on my own art projects so I decided to quit my job and move to New York. Life in New York was quite tough and my English wasn’t that good. I felt like I was stuck inside myself, so I started drawing a black hole, which represents freedom—a freedom hole that could take me anywhere. I also felt like a lot of people in New York were in a similar situation. People come to that city to fight for their dreams and future, but they face loneliness and homesickness. I created an Instagram account for it and my friend told me maybe I should do sticker bombs, too. People started to recognize my art and tag me on social media.
How did you get started as a street artist?
It took me about a year to get recognized with my Instagram. I didn't draw on any walls, only on paper because you need a license to draw on walls in New York. Once I gained a name for myself, I was allowed to draw on the walls. I did work in 6-7 places in New York including a seven-meter long container, and a few pieces in San Francisco and New Jersey as well.
What is the difference between Bangkok’s art scene and New York’s?
In New York, everybody really appreciates art so much. They are very aware of the whole art scene—I noticed that when I started using sticker bombs. You don’t have to be famous to get recognized there. The scene in Bangkok is definitely improving though.
What has living in New York taught you?
To be patient. I have to be very independent, plan more and exercise more discipline. I didn’t have that many friends when I first moved to the city, so I learned to socialize more. The living cost is also very expensive there, like 3-4 times more than Bangkok.
Have you drawn on any walls in Bangkok yet?
I will be drawing at Yelo House on May 20.
I will keep working on more artworks. This [black hole] project is an ongoing thing. When I go back to New York I will be doing more painting.
Advice for any Thai artists who are trying to make it out there?
Just be patient. Honestly, I don’t even think I’m that out there yet. Maybe I just have more time to spend on my art. If you spend a lot of time working on something, I’m sure there will be progress.
Exhibitions: "Life is Too Short to Hate" at Siam Discovery, 3/F until May 30
"Teleport" at Warehouse 30, Charoenkrung Soi 30, until Jun 15