Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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First Art Stalkers in Bangkok

The first-ever Art Stalkers braved the mid-afternoon heat to tramp through the city's most congested neighborhoods in search of good art.
Art Stalkers in Bangkok: Soofia and Roy

Soofia Asad on Silom Road. Note the satirical election poster behind them: a monkey

We met at IceDEA cafe at the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, to see the exhibition Foreign Familiar: an assortment of foreign photographers who are based in Asia. [After brief confusion-an article had stated the exhibition was on the 9th floor, when it was really on the 4th.]

Some of the most striking imagery for me were square-format photos by Laurence Leblanc of the children she met in Cambodia, and the interiors of homes all over China by Marrigje de Maar, with colors and texture reminiscent of Dutch Renaissance oil paintings. Others were concerned with Asia's fast-changing landscapes, from highrises cut off from the earth's context by Wolfgang Bellwinkel, to bright lights flickering through the industrial haze of Chongqing by Ferit Kuyas, and the velvety black-and-white prints of Peter Steinhauer: beautiful and remote.

(Other photos on show were cheap photojournalist cliches, poorly photographed – prostitutes, a body with gun and pool of blood – offering no new insights or perspectives on Bangkok, just voyeurism.)

Next stop was the Silom Galleria, an eclectic, ageing shopping mall where the best galleries are clustered towards the back.

Thavibu Gallery shows a variety of work in different rooms:

Art Stalkers:

Photographer Soofia Asad at Thavibu with prints by Martin P Collins, a photo-artist who works in layers of colors and texture

Myriam with sculpture in Thavibu's 3D Room. She was really keen on another sculpture behind the wall:
Art Stalkers: Myriam & Sculpture

Jenny eyes Burmese art at Thavibu while Olga's looking elsewhere

Art Stalkers Bangkok: Burmese art at Thavibu Gallery

Downstairs was an exhibition of paintings by Amnad Vashirasurt, the popular favorite. So enjoyed the paintings I forgot to take photos – here's the catalogue. (The artist's photo looks just like one of his paintings)

Art Stalkers: Preconceived Nomad Catalog

The gallery is a new exhibition space run by HOF Art, a creative warehouse studio at the edge of Bangkok.

Next was a long walk down Silom Road. We made an impromptu stop at Kathmandu Gallery, where Anne checked out a book or two:

Art Stalkers: Anne at Kathmandu

Noah's a master printer of fine art books. Here he's checking out a stack to see how they measure up to his exacting standards.
Art Stalkers: Noah and Books at Kathmandu

And a walk down Silom isn't complete without a political poster or two. This one is of Chuwit, a.k.a. the Massage Parlor King. And yes, he's running for Prime Minister – promising to eradicate corruption, claiming he knows all about it (he paid millions in bribes to police for years):

Art Stalkers: Massage King poster

There were five intrepid Stalkers left at the end of the day, for the last stop: incredible landscape photo paintings by Lu Jun at La Lanta.

Art Stalkers: Roy & Jenny with Lu Jun

The artist drops ink into tanks of water, photographs the ink as it disperses, then blends layers of photos of the ink into a 'digital painting' using the principles of traditional Chinese landscape painting.

I was fascinated by the idea and by the photos online and in print. Looking at them in the flesh, those at the gallery were smaller than I'd expected, used to the grand scale of many contemporary Chinese artworks. If these been printed at a larger size they would have had more scope for the artist's sweeping ink effects. And the way Lu Jun manipulated the tonality of the ink was digital and flat – had he added physical layers of something translucent like glass (as Lu Bing did with his 'ink-painting' installation) or acetate to work with his layers of ink, it would have been truly captivating.

Art Stalkers: Lu Jun with Roy & Nina

Next month's walk will still be free, but there will be a suggested donation of 200Baht (US$6.50) to Photolanthrophy, a photo project for kids in Bangkok which will start up later this year. In twenty years, who knows, thanks to you, some of their photos may end up in these galleries we visit today.

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