Make it a MoCA
ข่าวสังคม วันพฤหัสบดีที่ 5 เมษายน พ.ศ.2555 21:04 น.
 You loved Boonchai Bencharongkul's mobile-phone service. You'll love his new Museum of Contemporary Art too
Boonchai Bencharongkul, who founded and then sold major telecom player Dtac, has over the years become the country’s foremost arts patron, amassing a huge collection of Thai paintings.

Now he's going to share it with everyone.

Boonchai has erected Thailand's biggest private art facility, the Museum of Contemporary Art, on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road. We'll be calling it MoCA, just as New York has MoMA, its Museum of Modern Art, and Bangkok's newest landmark promises to meet the same international standard.

Set to open on April 18, the 20,000-square-metre, six-storey building will display more than 400 artworks from Boonchai's personal collection (a mere 30 per cent of what he owns in total, he says).

He paid Bt200 million for the site 15 years ago and spent Bt600 million more putting up the building. This is the sort of project that won Boonchai a spot on Forbes magazine's 2011 list of big-hearted philanthropists. The new museum is expected to draw a lot of people who rarely frequent galleries.

Four of its rooms are dedicated to the daunting paintings of Thawan Duchanee, perhaps Thailand's best-known artist overseas and here represented with more than 100 works.

You can also see the 48 original illustrations that Hem Vejakorn made for "Khun Chang Khun Phaen".

Chalermchai Kositpipat's modernised Buddhist art is there too, along with the surrealism of

Prateep Kochabua and rarely seen works by Fua Haripitak, Suchao Sisganes, Thawee Nandakwang and Chalerm Nakiraks.

"I've loved art passionately since I was a child, but as an eldest son I had to help run the family business," says Boonchai, who was schooled in the US and now runs the network provider Benchachinda.

"So I couldn't be an artist, but Thawan inspired me 20 years ago by saying I could be 'a drop of water for parched soil'. I've collected art for two decades and now it's time to push Thai artists to the forefront."

Wannaporn Phronprapha of P Landscape designed the museum in granite and Rujiraporn Wanglee of PIA Interior has laid out the interior.

The facade features ornate Thai scrollwork - jasmine stems forming window panels - through which sunlight streams inside.

Outside is a Nonthivathn Chandhanaphalin sculpture, a roar of mass and volume. Just inside the 34-metre-high atrium is Sanan Silakorn's statue of his teacher, Silpa Bhirasri, the father of modern Thai art. A Latin inscription on the wall reads Ars longa vita brevis - "Art is long and life is short."

An Italian, Professor Silpa modernised art education in Thailand and fostered the lacement of important monuments throughout the Kingdom. Two rooms on the first floor display his original plaster models for the statues of Thao Suranari in Nakhon Ratchasima and King Narai in Lop Buri, on loan from the government's Fine Arts Department. Boonchai admires them as lessons in how to depict anatomy.

Two more rooms have Chalood Nimsamer's paintings of rural life and Thai hospitality, all clean lines and simple designs in pastels, and the animal sculptures of Paitun Muangsomboon.

On the second floor are a bronze sculpture by Khien Yimsiri - Henry Moore meets Sukhothai Period folk art - and mixed media by Kamol Tassanachalee - the Buddha's footprint, Thai letters and shadow puppets rendered using Western techniques and colour blends.

Chalermchai Kositpipat's use of modern elements in traditional murals is seen near colourful figurative works by Sriwan Janehattakarnkit, Thavee Ratchaneekorn and Wuttikorn Kongka that reflect various social ills.

You can see the first artwork Boonchai ever bought - the 1958 oil "Lady" by Anand Panin - and the first one he bought directly from an artist -Panya Vijinthanasarn's 1980 tempura on sa paper "Different Way".

Surrealism dominates the third floor. It seems to be Boonchai's preferred style. He himself did several paintings in this manner while a student in the US (and still has four of them, though they're not on public view).

Prateep Kochabua is well represented with his penchant for morphing multiple elements into allegories of daily life, as in his famous "Churning of the Milk Ocean". There are other fantastic works by Chuang Moonpinit, Chakrapan Posayakit, Somphong Adulyasarapan, Kittisak Chanontnart, Rearngsak Boonyanishkul and Lumphoo Kansanau.

"I'm trying to collect more works by Prateep," Boonchai declares. "His paintings are wild, as is his inspiration. He's good at representing Thainess in beautifully fantastic imagery, but with a satirical bite."

Boonchai offers a fresh reading of "Khun Chang Khun Phaen", the classical tale of ill-fated love, by displaying Hem Vejakorn's illustrations opposite surrealistic airbrushed pieces he commissioned from Sukee Som-ngoen.

On one side you have the common perspective that Wanthong of the epic story was unfaithful, indecisive and immoral. Boonchai prefers the notion now gaining traction that she must have been recast over the years for religious or political reasons and was in fact "a good wife and a good mother", whereas it's the men in her life, Khun Chang and Khun Phaen, who deserve discredit.

Time to ascend into the first circle of "heaven": Thawan's empire is on the fourth floor.

You can admire all the elaborate lines and delicate pattern that must have each taken a month to render, Thawan as gem cutter. And there are also pieces he completed in seconds, flurries of brushwork that capture the darting movements of horses, tigers and lions.

"He's a great representative of artists from the East whose ink-on-paper drawings are full of fast yet strong brushstrokes and sell for millions," Boonchai says. Some of Thawan's knives with handles made of horns and claws are displayed as well.

Sharing the same floor is the seven-metre-tall triptych "Triphum" ("Three Worlds"), which waits at the end of the "Passage Across the Universe" inside a dimly lit oval structure. Sompop Buddharat has depicted Heaven in intricate Buddhist style, Panya Vijinthanasarn shows an Earth driven by money and Prateep Kochabua leaves room in Hell for anyone seeking a vacancy.

Higher still, the fifth floor is devoted to foreign artists. The "Richard Green Room" looks like a classic old-century European gallery. There's a 1720 bird painting by Pieter Casteels, pastoral views by Charles Sillem Lidderdale and Vittorio Reggianini's elegant scenes of bourgeois life.

And right up top of MoCA is a 70-seat theatre and an area reserved for art-related activities.


<< The Museum of Contemporary Art is on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road next to the Benchachinda Building.

<< After April 18 it will be open daily except Monday from 10am to 5.30pm. Admission will be Bt180 (free for children under 15, students, seniors, the disabled, monks and novices).

<< Guided tours can be arranged in advance, and three of the guides know sign language.

<< There's a souvenir shop, a caf? and two bookshops.

<< Find out more at (02) 953 1005-7 and




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