April is synonymous with Songkran here in Thailand, and this annual holiday always offers the perfect excuse for packing up and travelling outside the city. But even a special extended, week-long-plus lunar new year celebration for 2021 (to make up for last year) still means there’s three weeks left in the month for going out and checking up on what’s new and exciting in the local art scene. And, of course, don’t forget to drop by and check out all the artwork, designs and delicious food on offer at the Mango Art Festival at Lhong 1919, which runs from April 3rd to the 6th.
Hero image: Fur Movement 1 by Supmanee Chaisansuk
MOCA Bangkok, G Floor Gallery: Until April 27
Artworks by the late Chavalit Soemprungsuk, who was named Thailand’s National Artist in Visual Arts (Painting) in 2014, are joined by those of five guest artists – Jitsing Somboon, Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch, Pannaphan Yodmanee, Fasang Nava-Aran, and Angkrit Ajchariyasophon – in an exhibition entitled Messages. On display at MOCA Bangkok’s G Floor Gallery, the show has been curated by Nim Niyomsin and aims to present Chavalit’s artistic philosophy by using his works and writings as the storytellers. Over the past six decades Chavalit has become a prominent figure in the Kingdom’s abstract art and non-objective art scene, and he is also one of the last of the surviving students who had the chance to study with Silpa Bhirasri, regarded widely as the Father of Thai Contemporary Art. His artwork, placed alongside those of the other specially selected artists, should make very interesting viewing.
OUTSIDE GALLERY BY BILL BENSLEY
FCCT (Foreign Correspondents Club): Until April 22
Bill Bensley is an internationally renowned designer, architect and long-time resident of Bangkok. He and his team have created or transformed over 200 acclaimed resorts, hotels, and palaces, in 30+ countries, always with a focus on sustainability. Recently, Bill has taken to painting, and many of his vivid artworks are now on display at the FCCT (Foreign Correspondents Club, Thailand). As an artist without formal training, Bill considers his work part of the “outsider art” genre, which is why his recently opened, appointment-only art space is named the Bensley Outsider Gallery. As for his subjects, they encompass powerful themes, including environmentalism, pestilence, racism, and the idiosyncratic behaviour of the LGBTQ world. NOTE: Proceeds from sales, both prints and original paintings, will go to the Shinta Mani Foundation and Wildlife Alliance, two causes close to the artist’s heart.
La Lanta Fine Art: Until April 27
La Lanta Fine Art presents the debut solo exhibition by Thai illustrator Wattanapon Kitburin. In a show aptly named Wild Spirit, the artist pays homage to the symbiosis of all living existence; the equilibrium of nature that allows humans, animals, and plants to co-exist. However, the balance is off kilter when humankind takes advantage of nature without consideration of the consequences. Wattanapon – who’s realistic figurative paintings employ watercolour and acrylic to delicately depict various animals – makes images that show graceful nature alongside visual cues making reference to decay and deterioration. In choosing wood as his base material, the artist presents the intrinsic beauty of nature in an exceedingly natural form.
THE DELICACY OF NATURE
RCB Galleria 3, 2nd floor, River City Bangkok: April 18
Artist Supmanee Chaisansuk is a small lady with a huge talent. Her works are, for the most part, preoccupied with the natural world. The Delicacy of Nature, her 12th solo exhibition, provides viewers the opportunity to take a deeper, closer look into the overwhelming complexity – and beauty – of it all. Her multi-coloured, ever-swirling depictions of fur and other billowing, wafting substances, are the primary content of these mainly large canvasses, which are as beautiful and bizarre when viewed close-up, as they are when seen from across the room. The particular works in this show are described in the press material as “nature on a microscopic level”, but they also resemble the strange, other-worldy images of outer space nebula. Either way you look at it, these “abstracts” are glorious to behold… and selling fast!
SAC Gallery: April 3 – May 22
One of the most common painting techniques is utilizing brushes, and many artists employ brush and paint on canvas as their method of communicating. Creative folk throughout history have long been advancing their brush painting ability in order to understand the tool itself. In his exhibition Intentional Chance, at SAC Gallery, Kitikong Tilokwattanotai’s abstract paintings showcase a variety of colour schemes, brushstrokes, and textures. The artist’s gestures – via the brush – provoke our imagination to ponder the meaning of each painting, whether they are symbolic or alphanumeric script.
ALONG THE HORIZON
Tang Contemporary Art (River City Bangkok): Until April 30
Tang Contemporary Art presents Along the Horizon, a compelling solo exhibition by Chinese artist Yang Bodu. The title refers, obviously, to the “horizon” we all know; an indistinct dividing line that’s in the distance yet underfoot. In 2007, Yang subconsciously chose the museum – a setting she was familiar with – to develop her series, roughly portraying particular works of art in fictional spaces (based on source images). Sometimes, she only selected certain details or blurred the works of art, but in her more recent works she often intentionally hides the works of art altogether, or leaves only a bare canvas in its place. Whatever the subtext, the works are undeniably contemplative.
MUNCHAUSEN: IN RESIDENCE
Chim Chim Restaurant: Until June 15
Chim Chim, the newly opened and very popular all-day restaurant on the ground floor of the Siam@Siam Design Hotel, is currently presenting its debut art exhibition. The show is entitled Souvenirs, and it’s the collected work of Munchausen, the long-running art project of Parisian designer couple Simon Pillard and Philippe Rossetti. After moving to Thailand almost four years ago, the pair started dabbling in painting, transforming their Instagram adventures into bright and bold canvasses. This exhibit gathers those works and combines them with Thai crafts given the Munchausen treatment – offering a colourful vision of Thailand as seen through the eyes of two non-Thai local residents. And, of course, once you’ve seen the art, definitely check out the menu at Chim Chim (it’s delicious!).
Kalwit Studio & Gallery: Until April 30
The Ramayana, the story of Phra Ram and Thotsakan, is an ancient epic as familiar to residents of Southeast Asia as the Odyssey is to Western Europeans. In this solo exhibit, provocatively entitled New Ramayana, Thai artist Surachet Prueksawunprasut’s sci-fi imagery imagines a future made hopeless due to distorted growth through architecture, and a prevailing atmosphere of desperation. His works show that The Ramayana is not an outdated story, but an epic reflection of human beings who are still ruled by love, greed, anger, and passion, despite how much time has changed. By using the ancient tale as a prism for reflection, a bridge to communicate with future peoples is forged; begging the question: “Now, how do you imagine the future?”