Two galleries at the forefront of Bangkok’s contemporary art scene have recently moved to larger spaces that are easier to reach than their previous, rather far-flung venues.
Despite the consistent significance of its shows, Numthong Gallery, founded by Mr. Numthong Saetang in 1997, has long been notorious for the obscurity of its location (in a small, unmarked space deep inside a coop housing block far from downtown). Now it has moved into a purpose-built facility in the lively district of Aree, a ten minute walk from the BTS Skytrain’s Aree Station. The new gallery has 520 square meters of space, all on one level, including 135 square meters of exhibition space.
The reincarnated gallery’s first show, “Before Birth After Death,” which will run until May 31, features collage-like paintings by Kamin Lertchaiprasert, who is based in Chiang Mai. After Kamin, Numthong has slated solo shows by painters Nithi Watuya and Attasit Aniwatchon later in 2012.
Gallery Ver, an artist-run gallery co-initiated by Rirkrit Tiravanija in 2006, was previously located at a riverside spot on Bangkok’s Thonburi side, accessible mostly by boat. They set up anew in a disused office and depot building leased from the State Railway of Thailand. Reminiscent of venues in Berlin or Beijing’s 798 gallery district, the building is agreeably gritty, and situated in the middle of a trendy new flea market that takes place on weekend evenings, amid pubs, dance clubs and cafes. The new space, with a 100-square-meter main exhibition room and a 25-square-meter secondary room, is within walking distance of both the BTS Skytrain and MRT subway.
Ver’s new site was launched on February 11 with the show “Retro-Ver-spective,” featuring works by 15 Thai artists previously shown at the gallery, and two invited artists. The inaugural show closes on April 29. Gallery Ver plans four to five shows per year. Later in 2012 they will show abstract paintings by Spencer Sweeney, works by a young Thai artist, Noi Noir, and a show by Arin Rungjang.
Given the Thai capital’s sprawling layout, weak system of public transport, and lack of focused gallery districts, the accessibility of these new venues is in itself a welcome development for the local art scene.