Bangkok is about to hit the international art scene in a big way, with the opening of the highly anticipated first Bangkok Art Biennale (running from October 19th, 2018 to February 3rd, 2019). In the meantime, here’s a roundup of the most happening art spaces in the city, showcasing Thailand’s hottest artists.
H Gallery Bangkok, established in 2002, has been a pioneering venue for contemporary art in Thailand, with an exclusive focus on Thai artists, and a curated programme of experimental works and international dialogues. The gallery continues to push and define the importance of contemporary art ‘made in Thailand’. H Gallery manages two exhibition spaces at Gaysorn department store in Bangkok. Their gallery roster includes established and emerging artists, including talents like Sopheap Pich, Somboon Hormtientong and Jakkai Siributr. H Gallery keeps an extensive inventory of works, which can be viewed by appointment only.
Speedy Grandma was founded in 2012 by Lee Anantawat and Thomas Menard, big supporters of the dynamic Thai contemporary art scene, and positioned as an “alternative space”. Lee Anantawat believes in the transformative power of art, and declares: “Art should not be condemned to an isolated or exclusive universe, so our main mission is to advocate for the dynamic and critical role of art in the society. We see the experimentation as a mode of inquiry which is necessary if we are to insist on a constant, probing and generous interaction with reality.” The gallery name comes from a local urban ghost story: A grandmother on a motorbike was cut in two by a string stretched across a small street. According to legend, anyone who now rides too fast on the street will the see upper half of her body in their rearview mirror, crawling after them… As well as monthly exhibitions, their recent Speedy Grandchild project brings art students and young artists to their second-floor studio each month. Open to all experimental ideas, they also run artist-in-residence programmes for international artists who would like to work with local creators and audiences.
Speedy Grandma co-founder Thomas Menard is also the man behind Soy Sauce Factory, an eclectic art space opened in 2014 with a bar gallery on the first floor, an exhibition space on the second, and artist-in-residence accommodation on the third. The interior is bare and industrial, reminiscent of New York warehouses converted into airy lofts. Regular exhibitions are often held here in collaboration with a photography agency. A recent addition to the venue is a Northern-style street food restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking the canal.
An exciting recent addition to the Bangkok art scene, YenakArt Villa is the second collaboration between restauranteur Frederic Meyer and former diplomat Jeremy Opritesco. A spacious Bauhaus-style building with a 600 square metre garden, it’s designed to be a space for intimate exhibitions with artists, where art can be experienced together with fine dining, wine tastings and music. The highlight is a bi-monthly exclusive gathering and meal in the presence of the exhibiting artist, accompanied by a DJ who selects music to complement the artworks on display. Yenarkart Villa can be visited only by appointment. Contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It can be hard to find on the first visit, tucked in a small alley off Sukhumvit Soi 33, but this gallery will impress you once you’re inside: it’s spread across four floors with over 1,000 square meters of space dedicated to art. Its international team, including collector Subhashok Angkasuwansiri, aims to bring Thai contemporary art to the world and introduce more Western art to Thai collectors. Expect artworks and installations by upcoming young Thai artists and international artists whose works have rarely or never been exhibited in Bangkok.
Further down the street and hidden deep inside Sukhumvit Soi 31, this privately owned gallery is a quirky space dedicated to everything from graphic design and illustration to product design, furniture and everything in between. Combining a pop-up speakeasy with drinks tailored to the theme of each exhibition, the 45-square-metre attic functions as an office to a multi-disciplinary design studio and also as a bar, concept store and meeting point for designers, artists and design lovers. Their monthly-curated events showcase young and upcoming designers and makers, with selected graphic prints, illustrations, furniture and fine art. Make sure to have a chat with 56th Studio’s founders Napawan and Saran on their secret outdoor covered terrace and try their excellent cocktails.