The Great Art Invasion
Thailand has gone through many phases, from being touted as the land of temples and beaches to the hub of health and wellness, to kitchen of the world and perhaps even centre for technology if the government ever gets serious about pushing Thailand 4.0. But there is another aspect that is beginning to take shape, and because it is happening organically, it hasn’t been attracting too much attention. But make no mistake about it, it is definitely happening.
What am I talking about? Art and design, that’s what. It wasn’t that long ago that young, gifted creative people had to settle for commercial pursuits to earn a living as it was almost impossible to survive on their art. Although no less talented, Thai artists never seemed to be able to break into the international market while those from neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia did much better. This was due in no small measure to the lack of opportunities.
This is now changing. In addition to local art galleries, international curators are promoting Thai artists overseas as well as foreign artists within Thailand. Resources and support for the arts are growing. Art is becoming cool and hip, with areas dedicated to creativity emerging, such as Charoen Krung where the Thailand Creative and Design Centre has relocated, plus architect Duangrit Bunnag’s Warehouse 30 event space, among others. Barely a month goes by without a big art event, such as the Hotel Art Fair, an annual fixture which falls this month, or the extremely popular gallery hopping nights, which were started by the French Embassy but have now taken on a life of their own. Meanwhile, plans to stage the first ever Bangkok Biennale (due date: November 2018) were announced just a few weeks ago in Venice.
Thai designers are also being noticed. Some international architectural firms have set up in Thailand because of the talent available here. In this issue we look at interior designers who have created some of the most successful restaurants in Asia and find that they include not just international firms, but local ones as well.
What will happen in Thailand’s creative scene next? Who knows, but given the current direction of travel it is sure to be cause for excitement.
Tying the Knot Pellevah's new collection, Tropical Wonder, pairs bold colours with exotic leather goods. The Thai brand combines exquisite craftsmanship with timeless designs.
Buy a whisker That's no domestic pussy but a rare caracal cat. More and more Thais are being drawn to exotic animals as pets. See p 106