We recently attended an exhibition at HOF Art, on Ratchada Road. It was a fun night with a lot of people, some great reggae, high quality paintings and — the highlight for me — a body art show. Yes, you are about to see some pictures of people naked but, no, it is not really what I would term erotic art, more an expression of alternative art. It was very interesting to see and I would love to put on similar shows at our new Warehouse gallery when it opens next year.
Founded by a group of Thai artists that graduated at various Art faculties in Bangkok (Silpakorn, Por Chang, Chang Silpa, Chulalongkorn University, Lad Krabang University), Hof Art Center endeavors to support and promote the new generation of emerging Thai artists.
HoF has a website, HofArt but the English language version does not appear to work.
Located very close to the Ratchada MRT HoF’s gallery is a five storey semi-derelict building. It’s a cool place. I love run down sites for showing art, perhaps because the very fact that they are run down let’s the art do the talking.
The new exhibition features work by four Thai artists — Nipob Threechum, Kanok Jitsinthonpiron, Chana Kuanleing and Vichian Booneemak. These four guys first met many years ago when they were living in Samui and they exhibit together quite often.
Forgive the quality of the picture (this and others). Trying to photograph in terrible light is not easy and my camera was not cooperating!
I have featured Vichian previously on artThailand in Road to Petchabun. He is a very talented man and has exhibited a lot in America and Europe.
He is currently exploring different types of media and has been trying to persuade me to work with him on a laser project. Right now I don’t really know what he is planning but I like alternative media so I guess I will cooperate.
Of course, I am also working on him to show his work at artThailand which I am confident he will do!
I highly recommend this HoF exhibition which runs for the next month. Some will think me crazy for advertising my competition but I think it’s important to promote Thai contemporary art in general, not just the work that artThailand presents.
Ok, so let’s talk about body art. I don’t pretend to know much about it and have rarely seen it but it takes various forms — tattoo being perhaps the best known, but what we saw at HoF falls more into the category of performance art, a mixture of dance, rhythm and paint. Sound a bit weird? Well yes, it is unusual but strangely satisfying too.
I am not going to show all the pictures here but you can see them at Body Art.
The lights are dimmed and music begins playing. Two artists come and start throwing a combination of mud and paint over the canvas, then spreading it with their hands.
No one is quite sure what happens next but my camera hand is vaguely trembling (can’t be alcohol as the only sell juices!).
There is a sense of anticipation until as if by magic a woman appears. I don’t realize at the time but she is naked. It is not erotic, in the sense of arousing, but fascinating nevertheless. She walks slowly onto the canvas and beings a very slow but rhythmic dance.
At first she is rolling herself along and beside the canvas, covering her body in the paint/mud mixture. Then she kneels and, moving slowly to the rhythm of the music, she allows the artists to sculpt her body, creating color and shape.
We watch, not knowing quite what is happening, but appreciating the subtlety and beauty of what we see.
Not everyone will “get” this form of art and some will consider it nothing less than pornographic. All I can say is that it was an unusual but satsifying experience and, for me, very much the highlight of the show.
While some consider art to be the classical media of painting, sculpture, ceramics and so on, I have a fascination for alternative and, especially, mixed media. What I saw this night was a combination of music, rhythm, a visually sensory experience and a vague feeling of mysticism. It was almost as if I was transported back to ancient times, watching Aztec religious ceremonies, for this kind of “performance” is as ancient as art itself.
All told, it was a fun and interesting evening and I commend HoF and the artists who were presenting for their efforts. I hope very much to be able to do more to encourage performance art of this type. It is not remotely commercial….how can one sell such a thing, but it is rich in its symbolism, elegance and style.
So it will not surprise you when I say that I loved every minute of the experience.