Garuda: The Lord of Charoen Krung

12 08 2017


Death by plastic

11 08 2017


Of Bangkok’s environmental problems – a sinking water table, stinking canals, the clearing of the city’s trees – its choking addiction to plastic is one of the most visible. With its delicious culture of street food (where snacks are frequently served in styrofoam and/or double bagged) and in its plastic-happy 7-11s the city churns through a frightening amount of single-use plastics. Indeed, Thailand is one of the five South East Asian nations said to be responsible for 60% of all the plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.

Bangkok-based Norwegian photographer Ben Zander is seeking to raise awareness of the issue (as well as money to supply 7-11s with paper bags.) His project is a photo series called “Death by plastic” featuring Thai celebs (like the host of the Face Thailand here) posing against plastic pollution.

The pictures will be auctioned for the cause.

Deer tears

11 08 2017


Artist Sakarin Krue-On explores the sad true story of the Schomburgk’s deer in his new exhibition at the Tang Gallery, “A Talebearer’s Tale”. The species once ranged throughout central Thailand until it was declared extinct in 1938. Today only one specimen survives, stuffed and mounted in the museum of natural history in Paris.


5 08 2017


Lording over the collection at the Bangkok Scuplture Center is this powerful copy of the 1938 garuda bust adorning the city’s former Central post office. The original can now be seen up-close from the newly opened roof garden of the new Thailand Design and Culture Centre in the restored building on Charoen Krung.

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Subashok the Art Centre

5 08 2017


The sculpture of Kma Sirisamphan at the impressive new Subhasok The Art Centre space on Sukhmuvit Soi 39.


Day 4 8pm Blissfully Blind

25 07 2017


I had heard of a modern dance/performance art piece which happened to  be on while I was in town and decided to go to check it out: I’m so glad I did. “Blissfully Blind” by the B-Floor Theatre group is a work by Dujdao Vadhanapakorn, Thailand’s only psychiatrist specialising in dance therapy. Under her direction, a quartet of dancers performed on the theme: “Is it better to be blissfully blind or painfully aware?” This went on in and around a playground-like structure which pulsed with coloured light in an environment where the audience could move freely around through the performance, drifting to the two sides of the room at will, divided by the lighting structure. The choreography itself was strange, sometimes confrontational (angry eye contact with individual audience members), often opaque, but rarely less than compelling and the crowd of Bangkok art scenesters, with their black pants and assymetrical haircuts, seemed just as intrigued and confused as I was. It was a night of beauty and surprises.


Day 1 3.30pm Cafe Puritan

24 07 2017

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The art of Nakrob Moonmanas

24 07 2017

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24 07 2017

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While shopping in the vast new “Animate” manga superstore in the MBK mall I came across the Thai editions of this hitherto unknown series – Jojolion, about the pyschedelic adventures of a waifish boy in a tight sailorsuit. Apparently it was Japan’s third-best selling manga series in 2011, and also popular in Thailand . You learn something new every day.


On humans and sharks

15 07 2017


An exhibition currently on show at the Hong Kong Maritime museum, next to the Star Ferry pier.



2 07 2017


Images by Inu Yoshi (犬義).

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Queendom of the Merina

25 06 2017


Above, a sculpture from an exhibition of Malagasy art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum titled “Kingdom of the Merina” and below, Madagascar’s “mad queen” Ranavalona I. 


I was recently reading about the interesting historical figure of Queen Ranavalona, who ruled Madagascar with an iron fist from the 1830s to the 1860s. Traditionally described as a cruel tyrant, and sometimes said to have been insane, she has recently been subject to some historical revisionism. Her rule, which relied on forced labour and featured the violent persecution of Christians, was undoubtedly brutal. But postcolonial historians have wondered if her determination to stop European colonialism in its tracks and preserve Madagscar’s traditions and sovereignty (unsuccessful in the end) deserve attention as mitigating factors.

Among the hallmarks of Ranavalona’s rule was the widespread use of the tangena justice system, a kind of trial-by-torture reminiscent of that used in the witch trials of medieval Europe. An accused person would swallow the poison of the tangena tree. One source quoted by wikipedia says: “The accused would be fed the poison along with three pieces of chicken skin: if all three pieces of skin were vomited up then innocence was declared, but death or a failure to regurgitate all three pieces of skin indicated guilt.[4] Those who died were declared sorcerers. According to custom, the families of the dead were not permitted to bury them within the family tomb, but rather had to inter them in the ground at a remote, inhospitable location, with the head of the corpse turned to the south.”

In 1838 some 20% of the population may have died this way, in an anti-Christian purge.


The Art of Xiyadie

25 06 2017


The gay-themed paper-cut work of a rural Chinese artist known as “the Siberian butterfly”, or Xiyadie, which is part of an exhibition titled “Spectrosynthesis – Asian LGBTQ Issues and Art Now” at Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Flowers in New York and Tokyo

21 05 2017


Above, a rogue florist is turning public rubbish bins into floral art installations in New York. Below, a pop-up womens’ bathhouse designed by photographer Mika Ninagawa to promote Tsubaki (camellia) brand shampoo – open in Tokyo’s Ariake district for the next few months only.

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The glorious rattan art of Sopheap Pich

17 05 2017

Pich Sopheap sculptures. IMG_0413 IMG_0418


16 05 2017


One of the art world’s most glittering events, The Venice Biennale, is on again, in a peupose-built village of national pavilions decked out by different artists by the Venetian lagoon. Australia is this year represented by Tracey Moffatt (below, some of her previous works including the iconic “Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy”)

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Below, the work of Cody Choi who has designed Korea’s 2017 Venice pavilion.

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HK: visual culture

7 05 2017


Above, works from Tokyo illustrator Saki Obata at Wanchai’s Odd One Out, and below, the dreamy hyper-colour-saturated Hong Kong of local illustrator  penguin lab.


Art of Cauro Hige

6 05 2017


Strangers on a train.

Cultural centre: Bangkok to Sao Paulo

6 05 2017


Thailand’s Creative and Design Centre (TCDC ), whose exhibitions I have really enjoyed in the past, has reopened in a much larger new premises by the river along the Charoen Krung. It is now housed in a building attached to the brutal 1930s old General Post Office. The centre will spearhead a cultural rennaissance of one of Bangkok’s oldest neighbourhoods, already home to galleries Speedy Mama and Soy Sauce factory and some interesting street art, and to be joined later this month by a massive new warehouse cultural development spearheaded by architect Duangrit Bunnag. He successfully helmed the Jam Factory project on the other side of the river.

In Sao Paulo meanwhile, the Japan House opened this weekend, part of a next generation push by the Japanese government to expand its “soft power” around the globe. Brazil’s centre was the first to open, highlighting the strong links created by generations of Japanese immigration to Brazil and more lately, Brazilian immigration to Japan. The cultural centre opened with an installation by artist Azuma Makoto who sent 30 cyclists through the city to pass out flowers to “spread beauty” and mark the centre’s opening.

Eat with your eyes

6 05 2017


Hokkaidon at Taikoo Shing.

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new meets old

6 05 2017

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An interesting juxtaposition of Japanese pop art (courtesty of Yoshitaka Amano) and 15th century Chinese stone Buddhas at Wong Chuk Hang’s Art Concept gallery,