Until recently, spending the evening perusing a newly displayed collection of art in Bangkok was a foreign concept to the Thai people. But thanks to a younger, more bohemian generation of locals, the art gallery concept is finally starting to gain traction in the city. A testament to its fledgling status is how scattered the galleries are. Visitors interested in hopping or exploring the scene won’t find art concentrated in certain neighborhoods. But spend some time plotting your course, and you’ll find these five gems peppered throughout the city. Perusing the works of both Southeast Asia’s up-and-comers and established art-world favorites has become as much a glimpse into the culture of the Thai people as a visit to Wat Arun or a walk down Sukhumvit. So when the international art world turns it’s attention to Bangkok in five years—as I predict they will—you can say you knew about it way back when.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Despite only opening in 2008, the Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) is at the center of the art world in this city. The rotating calendar of exhibits showcase both Thai and Western work in a contemporary setting that has a striking resemblance to the Guggenheim in New York City.
The Queen’s Gallery
At The Queen’s Gallery, funded and commissioned by the royal family of Thailand, visitors will find several floors of collections that intermix paintings and sculptures from well-established Thai artists with the work of rising stars. The gallery isn’t huge, but the small 30 Baht ($1) entrance fee makes it worth the trip.
HOF Art Residency Bangkok
Art lovers flock to this hybrid gallery/artist colony for rotating exhibits of modern and sculptural art. The exhibition space features an on-site market where guests can purchase handmade and local pieces. Artwork and show locations rotate four to six times a year, so be sure to check their Facebook page for the latest listings.
WTF Café and Gallery
With its G-rated acronym actually standing for Wonderful Thai Friendship, this popular Bangkok watering hole is serious about both the art and well-made cocktails. Peruse two levels of gallery space, and then enjoy the live music and bar snacks. Expect to rub elbows with Bangkok’s artsy and bohemian crowds at this trendy spot.
Chatuchak Market Art Zone
I’m using the term gallery loosely in this case, but walk though section seven and you’ll have one-on-one access to the artists selling their work. Learning about the inspiration of paintings and sculptures before taking an item home is the ultimate souvenir. If you have two weekends in Bangkok, consider commissioning a painting.