Friday, April 9, 2010

A Grittier Side of Phuket's Art Scene

I finally saw an art shop which wasn't full of resplendent colours and attractive curves... This artist was sitting cross-legged on the ground painting black a canvas resembling a grid or a jigsaw puzzle. The painting hung around were quite different in style and subject matter, but all featured dark browns or black, and weren't particularly attractive. Dwelling on the darker side of life, this artist was representing the neglected, greying or derelict parts of Phuket - the dirt on the sidewalks, the grime-streaked historic buildings (no one to give them a fresh lick of paint or gloss) and the heavy wiring going on above street level, lining the roads.

I also saw some scintillating religious art - images of the Buddha's face deep underwater, reclining next to glowing coral, or pretty schools of fishes. What was he trying to say? Buddha can be found everywhere, especially in natural beauty? Buddha nurtures natural beauty, and is present in even the least expected places?

Yesterday I went out with my new Thai friend, Giorgi - we had drinks and a prawn appetiser at a glitzy pierside restaurant where we caught the last fragments of a sunset, then headed over for gnocchi with pesto and tomato sauce at an Italian restaurant. I had my first taste of tamarind gelato - not my favourite, but certainy unique. Then we decided to go to a local karaoke bar on a whim - it was situated within a big classy hotel, and the rooms were gorgeously eclectic in colour. Thailand, as usual, is brimming with vibrant shades, peacefully subversive imagery, crawling with lofty strokes of talented artistic hands.

In the Bangkok Art & CUlture Center there was an installation work comparing Bangkok to Tokyo - Tokyo is certainly cleaner and more wholesome-looking, but it lacks the colour and imagination that makes Bangkok (and Thailand) so riveting. I look forward to coming back again... and next time, I'll fly in through Phuket!

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