Thursday, 16 April 2015

13. Bangkok: More Street Art by Permission (+ a few Sculptures) 

For the past few years, Asian dynamo Bangkok has been trying to develop an area called W District as the city's arts zone. But artificially parachuting an arts district into an established neighbourhood isn't always the most successful formula.

Vibrant arts districts tend to grow organically out of  the talents of the people who live/work there. They're the ones who provide the heartbeat and pulse that sustain the areas' artistic health. Good examples include: London's Soho, Paris' Montmartre, New York's Chelsea, San Francisco's Mission District, and Toronto's West Queen West.

W District has, not surprisingly, experienced it's share of growing pains, including a surfeit of unrented space. But one good thing about the area is that it's been approved for street art - even if the art isn't actually on the street, but rather surrounds an internal courtyard. Bangkok street artists aren't overly inclined to paint where they're not invited.
Much of the artwork appears in the form of simple, stylized portraits of women, on otherwise unadorned white walls. They include these sad-looking clowns by Bangkok artists Sir Jorra (left) and Mamablues (right):

And this one by Zing Peerapong Uthaipan:

Other murals are more complex:

The one below includes contributions by several artists. The bear is Bonus TMC's trademark image, while the multi-coloured owl is typical of Rukkit's style:

One of the district's delights is the array of sculptures scattered around an open-air food court:

When we visited W District a few months ago, one of the galleries -  HOF - was hosting a crafts competition and sale. Here's the one we cast our vote for as best-in-show:

OK, so it won't fit in with everyone's living-room décor, but elephants are big in Thailand. (Come to think of it, they're pretty good-sized everywhere you find them!)

We were also lucky to take in an art exhibition at Goja gallery, featuring the work of Cambodian street artists Peap Tarr and Lisa Mam. Here's one of their designs on canvas:

If you'd like to see more street art in Bangkok, please check out post no.28 on our sister blog:

Our next post on STREETsmART will focus on Bangkok street murals that were painted without official approval.

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