Bangkok Art & Cultural Center

Thailand was such a whirlwind of emotion and activity that it is difficult to know what I should write about. My first blog from Thailand will be about the awesome trip I took to the Bangkok Art & Cultural Center (BACC). I was there on Sunday, February 3 (my birthday!) and I could have spent three whole days wandering the museum floors. There was so much amazing artwork and it was my first experience with traditional Thai artwork. BACC also had a really incredible Buddhist art exhibit; walking through was a pretty emotional experience because all of the artist’s had put his or her own stories out there to complement the art. Knowing the artist’s history and reasoning for creating a specific piece of art always enhance the experience of viewing the artwork.

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This is the introduction to the Buddhist art exhibit, No Absolute Truth in the Universe. As someone who has always been intrigued by and drawn to the peaceful and reflective nature of Buddhism, this exhibit drew me in immediately. These words were located in a small hallway and then the hallway opens up into a large room which was filled with all sorts of fantastic art: paintings, photographs, sculptures and even video installations.

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The above was one of my favorites in the Absolute Truth exhibition; it is a photograph by Keevito Rotpan called “India.” This is what Rotpan had to say about his photograph: “Desires beget the will and drive to live. Desires create something new out of us. I see desire as cause = the origin of lives as well as the burdens and attachments that bind us to this unending cycle. Inspired by the aforementioned idea, this collection of works reflects rebirth, excess and an obsession with fertility, as well as warm and beautiful life, that at the same time involves a burden one has to shoulder – the burden that imprisons our minds and bodies.”

It’s a pretty intense photograph once you look at it with the artists’ ideas in mind. The road leading to the mountains – something to climb could be seen as a burden but the desire to take on the burden of climbing so that you can be immersed in the inevitable beauty of the landscape. There is so much emotion floating around in the painting. All of the paintings in this exhibit were equally emotional and thought-provoking.

The next floor we saw was the history of Thai Art and it was phenomenal. The methodologies and techniques used were so intricate and complete that every painting took me by surprise. They were all huge which helped with the awe factor as well. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I have taken art history classes throughout my college career, I have never learned of the unique history of traditional Thai art. They do really cool things to their canvases, like covering them in mounds of sand and allowing the sand to harden before they start painting, or stretching a mosquito net over the canvas to provide additional texture and challenge to the piece. My favorite painting was “Enlightenment” by Mathasit Addok. It was a colorful painting that tried to elicit the emotion and feeling behind Buddhism through its use of color and shape. The picture I am about to show you does not do it justice, but I am in love with the colors in this painting:

A painting by Mathasit Addok that wants to capture the spirit of Buddhism using colors and shapes.
A painting by Mathasit Addok that wants to capture the spirit of Buddhism using colors and shapes.

The museum also had an awesome exhibit about sound called “Here Hear.” It was trying to demonstrate how we have this artistic component around us literally all the time: the sounds on the streets, the sounds you are making, the sounds the earth is making. It was a cool exhibit with lots of stuff to play with!

Kat playing with one of the fun sound exhibits!
Kat playing with one of the fun sound exhibits!

On the very top floor was an exhibit made up of the princess’s photography. It was amazing but we were not allowed to take any pictures. And, ironically enough, as we were leaving the museum we actually got to see the princess drive by. We walked out of the museum and tried to walk up to the SkyTrain but it was being guarded and then we realized that no one was up in the SkyTrain; there also wasn’t a single car or person on the street. About thirty seconds later, a train of thirty or so cars and an ambulance flew past us; we could recognize the princess in the car from her picture in the gallery. An interesting ending to a great day at the museum 🙂

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