During the weekend I finally visited the two museums that I've been planning to see for the longest time now.
Last Saturday, I met up with Shanghai Tang (coz he was wearing them expensive shoes) at the National Gallery. I'm not sure if I was exactly interested in the museum coz Shanghai Tang is distractingly gorgeous, I instantly wanted to have his babies. In between paintings of the King we talked about each other's lives. He told me he grew up in Gabon and Ivory Coast when we were in front of this gigantic old painting of the Buddha's life. We talked about our impressions of Luang Prabang while checking that classic sculpture of a boy playing the flute. Portraits of the former kings of Thailand stared at us as we discussed our impressions of BangCock (he just recently moved here). However, we did not have enough time to see the other parts of the museum as it was already closing time.
We moved to Khao San Road for late lunch while exchanging opinions about the art scene in the city. But then, I could not focus. I could not help being drawn to his eyes, especially when he laughs. Sigh. He's a bit shy though, which makes him more endearing. Sigh, part two. We had more time to talk on the cab to Paragon as the traffic crawls (for the first time, I'm thankful that the traffic was bad). Needless to say, Shanghai Tang excites me. Let's see how this goes, girls.
I attempted to buy wine for Bubbles' birthday but there was an alcohol ban coinciding with the elections (held yesterday). I ended up buying fruit juice and then headed to L's house where we celebrated Bubbles' birthday over cheese and raisins. It was a wonderful, intimate evening for us three girls.
The next day, I met L and Bubbles at the newly-opened Bangkok Art and Culture Centre for their current exhibit called Traces of Siamese Smile: Art+Faith+Politics+Love. I know, it's not the most imaginative title I've heard recenlty, but the exhibit certainly made up for it. But before I talk of that, I have to say something about the design of the building, which sits across the popular shopping mecca of MBK. Outside, the imposing edifice looks unremarkable. White, like a blank canvas. The interior is stunning though, as seen in the pictures below. I'm not an architecture expert, but the emotional impact of the building is already an artwork. It is truly a deserving temple for art!
Ok, let's move to the exhibit. I would have to skip discussing the first sections of the show coz they're quintessentially Thailand, namely Buddha heads galore. Maybe for tourists they are fascinating, but having lived in Thailand for some time now, those pieces do not catch my fancy anymore.
The rest of the sections however feature more contemporary and cutting edge works: videos, photos, installations, sculptures, paintings, etc. One of the more interesting pieces that caught the fancy of L and me is this panel made of paraffin wax, which creates swirling and translucent textures. There is also this installation piece of pink condoms piled in one corner of the room. A few smaller rooms are scattered all over the venue. One features an all-black room that reeks of gasoline inside where faces of snarling dogs are displayed on a video wall. Another room shows a mesmerizing clip of young, lithe men pushing cyclos underwater at a beach in Na Thrang. Another video shows a crooning Elvis impersonator. It's a shame that I cannot review art, but take my word for it, the show would keep you inside the building for hours.
The diversity of pieces keep the show captivating. And as the title of the exhibit says, the range of the themes is also broad, thus keeping it far from monotonous (albeit, un-cohesive at times as well). With hundreds of pieces around the the ginormous halls of the museum, the exhibit is worth a second and probably third visit, which I'm doing in the coming weeks.
The opening of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is certainly a step to the right direction for the art scene in the city. With its strategic location in the shopping district of Bangkok, it should also hopefully attract more people. Probably some folks shopping from MBK would think that they crossed towards another mall only to find out that they are in fact inside a sophisticated museum and they decide to take a look at the exhibit anyway. Shopping malls and museums sitting side by side... why not?
Photo Credit: (1) Bangkok Tourist, (2) Absolutely Bangkok, (3) and (4) Mariliu (Flickr), (5) and (6) Bangkok Post: Outlook