Bangkok’s small, yet growing, art gallery scene is starting to get deserved attention. I’m a fan of provocative, statement-making art, and it’s been a joy to see young voices in Bangkok rise to the occasion. Some art galleries are considered “underground” since it’s not common (or widely accepted) to be controversial in Thailand. Many of these galleries are having great runs, like TARS Gallery (10/3 Sukhumvit 67 Alley, Tel: 66-99-736-8672. www.tarsgallery.com), which is owned by a French artist, and showcases local work that explores themes like sexuality. There is also the more commercial 56th Studio Private Gallery (235/10 9-11 Green Connect, no phone. www.56thstudio.com), that is known for its raging art parties; and Cinema Oasis (4 Soi Sukhumvit 43, Tel: 66-97-929-5366. www.cinemaoasis.com), which is an independent movie theater and art gallery opened by a Thai husband-and-wife team who actually made a movie, Shakespeare Must Die, a Thai adaptation of Macbeth that was controversial and banned. Now, the gallery and cinema helps young visual artists have a voice by fighting censorship, whether through sculptures and paintings, or through exhibitions like Eden, which explores good vs. evil. Perhaps the biggest indication Bangkok is truly celebrating art is the new Bangkok Art Biennale (www.bkkartbiennale.com), which will have an inaugural event running until February 2019. The art show takes place at various venues throughout Bangkok, like famous temples (including Wat Pho), and sites along the Chao Phraya River, rather than typical galleries.
Speaking of artists, the drag scene is getting tons of attention in Bangkok. In fact, Thailand debuted its version of Drag Race Thailand in Bangkok this year, where performers competed for the prize and notoriety as Thailand’s best drag queen. Bangkok has always celebrated its drag culture, but the show truly put it in on the map worldwide. While you can’t see the show in the US (for now), drag fans heading to Bangkok can see the contestants perform out and about in Bangkok, like Annee Maywong at popular nightclub DJ Station (11 2/1 Silom, Tel: 66-2-266-4029. www.djstation.com); Dearis Doll at Maggie Choo’s jazz club (Hotel Bangkok Fenix Silom 320 Si Lom, Tel: 66-9-772-2144, www.maggiechoos.com); and Pangina Heals, one of the show’s co-hosts, at the monthly G-Spot Theme Party at Vertigo TOO, Banyan Tree Bangkok’s famous sky bar (21/100 Silom, Khet Sathon, Tel: 66-2- 679-1200. www.banyantree.com).