Bangkok is Art.
With a capital A.
As modern structures compete alongside cultural heritage icons for space on the city’s skyline, Bangkok is undoubtedly a spot for creativity and experimentation at every level – which is nothing if not art.
On a micro level too, the city beats a creative pulse, whether it’s in the fashion, cocktails, driving style or – of course – the food.
Art galleries and studios are scattered indiscriminately around Bangkok for the city’s creators to set up shop and make.
Paintings, jewellery, photography, sculpture, clothes. The list goes on…
No one neighbourhood has adopted the mantle for the city’s ‘art hub’ although some spots have a noticeable concentration of galleries and arty nooks that could rival art scenes in Berlin and London.
One in particular – Phrom Phong. Or more specifically; Soi 31.
This long soi leading from Sukhumvit down to Petchaburi is most notably lauded for its array of excellent international restaurants.
But it’s also home to a handful of galleries, ranging from modern installation work to international artist previews to traditional Thai creative workshops.
Let’s take a look around…
Koi immediately stands out with its fabulous multicolour, patterned elephant taking pride of place on the gallery’s doorstep.
Their remit is wide, covering sculpture, painting and installation but they are committed to shining a light on both emerging and established contemporary artists – both Thai and international.
Koi’s mission is to challenge traditional perspectives with their exhibitions and provide a creative space for Bangkok’s contemporary art scene.
As well as visiting the gallery in person, you can purchase art online and Koi will ship it to you anywhere in the world.
Their last exhibition was the disturbing Don’t Fall In Love With Me by Thai artist Kowit Wattanarach on the dynamics of love and infatuation. They are yet to release details for upcoming exhibitions.
Focusing on more traditional Asian art is Himapan whose specialties include Chinese antique furniture and Asian home decor.
What they’re best known for, however, is their fantastic array of art workshops – drawing, photography, ink monochrome and lotus leaf painting. The latter is particularly popular with locals and tourists alike as you’re allowed to keep the painting once you’ve finished as a meaningful memento of your time in Bangkok. They’ll even ship it to you!
All their furniture pieces are restored and totally unique to Himapan – if you have even a fleeting interest in traditional Asian furniture then a stop here is a no-brainer.
A pit-stop at the 56th Studio is a journey of discovery in contemporary stylings.
56th Studio was recently included in the Louis Vuitton City Guide for Bangkok, thanks in part to the innovative furniture and product design studio it sits on top of in the Green Connect Building. The mission of 56th Studio is clear: great design deserves the same adoration as the world of fine art.
The gallery space is certainly small at just 48 square metres but the work – by both Thai and international designers – certainly packs a punch.
One of the more established galleries in Phrom Phong is the celebrated La Lanta – again, it chooses to focus on Asian contemporary art from artists of international acclaim and also exciting up-and-comers.
Showing just how supportive they are of emerging talent, La Lanta also spearhead a scheme called the ‘Young Programme’ whereby they proactively seek the work and experimentation of new Asian artists, incorporating them into their annual exhibition schedule.
La Lanta is currently hosting the Ultradistancia exhibition by Federico Winer; an exploration of the artistic capabilities of Google Earth’s satellite cameras.
Also gracing Soi 31 are the Dot Art + Suite and Cassia Tea Room which both exhibit art in their small gallery spaces. Dot is also a very small boutique hotel while Cassia is a small cafe and tea room.
Do you think Phrom Phong is the centre of Bangkok’s throbbing art scene? If not – where is?