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ARDEL Gallery in Bangkok exists between the realm of artistic creation and business. As we all know, money is significant in everyday life. It is also a supporting factor for art creation.
So, the curator would like this gallery to be a place for artists to work on their imagination without having to worry about finance or anything regarding management. Their job is to create art. Leave the rest to us.
What is your role as curator and director of ARDEL Gallery?
My role is to search for new talents and support young Thai artists by giving them a platform to display their works of art while managing to balance art and business so that we can grow sustainably.
How did the gallery start?
14-15 years ago, most of the art galleries in Thailand still focused on the commercial aspect, meaning that the majority of the exhibits were from renowned artists whose works were likely to be sold. As a result, fresh graduates could hardly find a nice space to show off their art. So, as an art instructor myself, I understood this problem and therefore wanted to create this place to support my students.
What was Prof. Thavorn Ko-udomvit's vision when creating the space?
The potential of young artists is what I see and believe. The problem is people have not yet acknowledged their creativity and talents. This space will answer such a question.
How has this evolved since 2006?
Even miracles take time. Let alone building a reputation for an unknown/emerging artist. I worked hard to build up and convince the society that the art of emerging artists is not at all inferior to the masterpieces. During the process, I had to face financial problems as well, so I have to reconsider my initial goal to create a space wholly for young artists. It is essential to have a show that includes masterpieces so that the profit from selling those artworks can help subsidize the young ones'. At present, the exhibitions organized by my gallery are a mix of sellable works and non-commercial, yet, thought-provoking pieces.
What are the main themes in today's modern art scene in Bangkok?
Actually, we cannot exactly pinpoint the current theme of art in Thailand because people are different and so the art. That is why we have shown both the super traditional and extreme conceptual exhibitions. However, the obvious change in this era is the taste in aesthetics. The Internet and social media have played an important role in the cultural alteration of society, forcing art of all styles to adapt and improve to avoid disruption.
How are Thai traditions and culture being represented in modern art or have western tastes and themes taken over?
Thai traditions have been more contemporized in terms of forms that do not solely depend on traditional patterns as in the past and the content that relates more to people and society. Despite the western style portrayal of art by some artists, their content is Thai as they still discuss our social problems, lifestyles, and the country itself, be it negatively or positively. So, I believe that Thai culture has not been taken over. We only borrow some western cultures to help in our expression. I think adopting and adapting western culture to create our art before presenting them in the Thai way is Thai culture in every art era.
Who are the new modern artists in Thailand? Older artists or newer generation? What backgrounds do they come from?
I feel that artists with wealthy families and backgrounds tend to be interested in conceptual art since money is not a big deal for them as well as other life requisites. For example, both Kawita Vatanajyankur and Korakrit Arunanondchai have studied abroad and their works of art are highly creative which is rarely seen from Thai artists. Meanwhile, the majority of Thai art students who are from the middle class still practice figurative art. That is because the art market in my country is quite a niche. Many art collectors still collect the pieces that would earn them profit such as painting. Therefore, to respond to the demand, there are a lot of paintings available, more than other types of art in our community. Yet, some older artists have worked on conceptual art such as Sakarin Krue-on or Montien Boonma. Backgrounds, thus, are not the only thing to be considered. The most important thing is the interest of the artist.
What other activities does ARDEL do?
We have art workshops and talks as our main activities because besides providing exhibition space, we also want the gallery to be a learning hub for everyone.
Tell us about one of the most interesting exhibitions of the last few years…
I would say the ceramic exhibition by Nino Sarabutra and Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch. They both work on pottery; however, present them in forms of conceptual art that criticizes society. I think their artworks are intriguing and could be improved further in the long run.
Is COVID Virus represented in current art and the new way of living represented?
Definitely. Artists create their works according to the thing they have found in life and as all of us have been affected by the virus, we sure express it through our art. Some artists have created their art pieces during the quarantine as well as discussed them, including me.
Plans for the near future?
Actually, I have already had my plan packed until next year. Since I am the director, I have to think beforehand while looking for new exhibitions to show at the gallery all the time. The nearest one is a photography exhibition where the artist brings about and looks into the role of medical staff who have worked extra hard during the outbreak. It is quite an interesting exhibition I would like to recommend.