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Contemporary Art and Artists

Contemporary Art

The northern region of Thailand has a quite extraordinary history of art and design, including craft. From the beautifully produced fabrics and metalwork of indigenous peoples, to remarkable temple architecture, to contemporary avant-garde art practices that ensure that the region rivals major cultural centers around the world.

The city of Chiang Mai, for example, hosts The Land Foundation, an artists’ organization that explores ideas of self-sufficiency that was founded by the internationally renowned Rirkrit Tiravanija and Kamin Lertchaiprasert. More recently, the alternative artist-in-residence program, ComPeung (meaning “appropriate remark”), was established in nearby Doi Saket. Any number of noteworthy artists live in the region, including the legendary Inson Wongsom, famed filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Navin Rawanchaikul and Mit Jai-in.

Chiang Rai contributes greatly to the regional cultural flux. The city boasts art galleries with highly considered and serious programs, an array of significant architecture, and a craft industry that explodes conventional distinctions between art and design.

The conceptual artist Angkrit Ajchariyasophon founded angkritgallery in 2008. In a two-floor rectangular space above his noodle shop, Ajchariyasophon has worked with the Japanese curator Fumiya Sawa to deliver exhibitions of an international standard. The Lamphun-based Mit Jai-in created an installation of his double-sided, or 3D, paintings during 2009.

Also Patricka Chulamokha produced a minimal show, ‘Life is Elsewhere,’ during the same year. Future projects include exhibitions by Thasnai Sethasaree and Somluck Pantiboon. angkritgallery is situated on the outskirts of the city and a short distance away from Chiang Rai Rajabhat University that also houses a gallery with occasional exhibitions throughout the year. 9 Art Gallery can be found in the centre of Chiang Rai city. Like angkritgallery, 9 Art Gallery functions as a hub for the province’s more experimental art practices and exhibitions are typically opened by noted guest speakers. Moreover, opening nights are a virtual who’s who of the local scene. The latest addition to the growing art venues is the brand new artSpace@leMeridien Chiangrai at the 5-star, deluxe resort, Le Meridien, borne of the inspiration of well-known art consultant Jaffee Yee who also acts as its curator.

Chiang Rai’s pace of life is distinctly more laid back than Bangkok’s and therefore, it is not surprising that a number of artists have made the province their home. Tawan Duchanee, a native of Chiang Rai, established his reputation abroad before settling here, and has created a wonderland of architectural structures at Nang Lae. A series of imaginative reinventions of aspects of Thai Buddhist architecture dot the landscape of his personal compound and contain workshops, artworks, and his inspirations in the natural forms of animal skins and wood. The setting is surreal. The award-winning ceramicist Somluk Pantiboon runs his studio, Doy Din Dang, with his wife and business manager, Tamako, a few kilometers north of Chiang Rai in Mae Salong. Set amidst a forest idyll of rolling hills, Doy Din Dang boasts a café and a lavishly stocked shop alongside the artist’s working areas. Somluk studied pottery in Japan and works with an array of functional and sculptural forms, all beautifully glazed with locally-processed colors.

Finally, no survey of the arts in Chiang Rai would be complete without mentioning Chalermchai Kositpipat, an artist who has arguably emerged as the Frank Gehry of northern Thailand because of his stunning Buddhist and Hindu temple, Wat Rong Khun. This all-white structure with myriad detail has become a great attraction for visitors to the city.

The unconventional whiteness is intended to symbolize Lord Buddha’s purity, and the temple was designed to be viewed in moonlight. To the left is an equally arresting, gold-colored Gharavasa, or layman’s quarters, that comprises an art gallery, all-purpose hall, library, meditation space, and, hold your breath, a golden toilet. Chalermchai also designed a comparable clock-tower for the city center, at which there is a daily light and sound show from 7:00pm.

The Legend : Chiang Rai Office
124/15 Moo 21 Kohloy Road, Amphur Muang, Chiang Rai 57000, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 53 910 400
Fax: +66 (0) 53 719 650
The Legend : Bangkok Office
133/14 Ratchaprarop Road, Ket Rajthevee, Bangkok 10400 Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 2 642 5497, +66 (0) 2 254 3069, +66 (0) 2 247 5373
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