Dive into Bangkok’s art scene
Published/Last edited or updated: 31st August, 2017
Inspiration abounds in Bangkok’s bustling streets so it comes as no surprise that a bunch of artists, both Thai and foreign, base themselves here. To help you experience the ever-evolving art scene, we’ve gathered a list of several galleries operating at the bristled end of the brush.
Most of these are small, independent galleries focusing on contemporary art, often created by local, up-and-coming artists. To get a well-rounded feel for Bangkok’s art scene, sprinkle in some of these while also hitting larger art venues like the National Gallery, MOCA, BACC, TCDC, Jim Thompson, Khlong Bang Luang and the antique art galleries of Charoen Krung Road. For guidance on just how to do that, check out our suggested art walks in Bangkok.
100 Tonson Gallery
This venue is a leading force in Thailand’s art world and beyond. The minimalist space is often transformed by an artist’s experimental concept—you may find a single statue complimented by a video installation or a new-age mural painted on the actual walls, for example. The gallery supports a roster of established international and Thai artists, and the magazine, Contemporary Art, once named it one of the top 50 emerging galleries in the world. The location on leafy Soi Tonson, one of Bangkok’s more pleasant side streets, is a bonus.
100 Tonson Gallery: 100 Soi Tonson (about one km southeast of Chit Lom BTS Station); T: (02) 010 5813; http://www.100tonsongallery.com ; open Thu-Sun 11:00-19:00
Subhashok The Arts Centre (SAC)
Named after a prominent Thai art collector, this ambitious project in the upscale Phrom Phong area has two spacious floors of exhibition space in a brushed concrete building with a glass centre representing a stone chopped in half. Rimmed by permanent sculptures and gardens, the building itself looks more like a mid-size museum than an independent gallery. An international team of curators seeks serious talents from Thailand and abroad—do dress up and expect to encounter Bangkok’s high society art crowd at an opening.
Subhashok The Arts Centre (SAC): 160/3 Sukhumvit Soi 33 (aka Soi Phonsi; about one km north of Phrom Phong BTS Station via Sukhumvit Soi 39); T: (02) 662 0299; https://www.facebook.com/sacbangkok/ ; open Tue-Sun 11:00-18:00
Located on a plush and easy-to-reach street between Sathorn and Silom, H Gallery occupies an elegant late 19th century house with gingerbread trim and varnished wood floors. Owner H Ernest Lee and curator Brian Curtin bring in a very high standard of exhibitions from mainly Thai or Thailand-based artists. The upper floor features unconventional installations at H Project Space, and H Gallery is associated with Eat Me, a nearby restaurant that also hosts exhibitions and serves terrific food and drinks.
H Gallery: 201 Sathorn Soi 12 (half-km west of Chong Nonsi BTS Station); T: (085) 021 5508; http://hgallerybkk.com ; open Wed-Mon 09:00-18:00
Bangkok CityCity Gallery
Situated near the embassies on Sathorn Soi 1, this contemporary gallery opened in 2016 in a purpose-built white structure which rates among the city’s sleekest art venues. Exhibitions tend towards the experimental; we viewed a group show that mixed video, paintings, photography, independent radio and the opportunity for any visitor to chat with an artist via Skype or create their own addition to a collage of newspaper clippings on a wall. There’s also a cafe and reading room filled with art books and reports in English and Thai.
Bangkok CityCity Gallery: 13/3 Sathorn Soi 1 (half-km southwest of Lumphini MRT Station); T: (082) 087 2725; http://bangkokcitycity.com/home ; open Wed-Sun 13:00-19:00
Owner Numthong Sae Tang launched this gallery in an out-of-the-way spot in Dusit in 1997 before moving to a fairly large, modern building in the trendy Ari hood. It remains one of Bangkok’s top contemporary galleries, running as many as eight exhibitions per year and assisting Thai artists to thrust their careers into higher gears. Paintings are usually featured in the minimalist space, though Numthong also exhibits photography, film and mixed media on occasion.
Numthong Gallery at Aree: 72/3 Ari Soi 5 (half-km northwest of Ari BTS Station): T: (02) 617 2794; (081) 918 5067; http://gallerynumthong.com ; open Mon-Sat 11:00-18:00
The Queen’s Gallery
Standing near Democracy Monument in the old quarter, The Queen’s Gallery is an outlier on this list thanks to its five-floor stature and the fact that it operates under royal patronage. Queen Sirikit established it in the early 2000s to showcase works by senior and up-and-coming Thai artists, generally with a more traditional bent than most independent galleries. This does not mean the art is dull—paintings, sculptures, embroidery and other mediums often display the incredible intricacy typical of classical Thai art.
The Queen’s Gallery: 101 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd (across the intersection from Phanfah Leelard canal boat pier and 300 m east of Democracy Monument); T: (02) 281 5360-1; http://www.queengallery.org ; open Thu-Tue 10:00-19:00
This youthful coterie of artists fill out a warehouse with three different galleries—VER (the original), Cartel, and Artist + Run—plus the Tentacles studio space, a cafe and a residency program for foreign artists. It’s one of the city’s edgier, more innovative venues, promoting experimental art across mediums. Not all visitors will “get” the art shown here, but there’s no doubting the creative juices flowing through the building. It’s particularly worth seeking out if you’re an artist looking to collaborate and exchange ideas with others.
Gallery VER (at N22): 10 Naradhiwas Soi 22 (down an alley 200 m west of Thanon Chan BRT Station); T: (02) 356 7789; http://vergallery.com ; open Wed-Sun 12:00-18:00
Sombat Permpoon Gallery
Thai art collector Sombat Wattananthai launched her first gallery in 1979 and went through six different locations before opening the current space in a former office building off lower Sukhumvit in 1995. She stores more than 10,000 works here, displaying many for sale in a ground-floor gallery showcasing a wide range of mostly Thai artists, including all-time greats like Thawan Duchanee. Regular exhibitions held on an upper floor spotlight emerging artists.
Sombat Permpoon Gallery: 12 Sukhumvit Soi 1 (200 m northeast of Phloen Chit BTS Station); T: (02) 254 6040-46; http://www.sombatpermpoongallery.com ; open daily 09:00-20:00
Kathmandu Photo Gallery
Set in an early 20th century shophouse that’s like a walk-in curiosity cabinet, this distinctive space with a casually South Asian theme is the creation of Manit Sriwanichpoom, an eminent Thai photographer who displays some of his socially edgy photos on the ground floor. After browsing these along with the postcards and books for sale, head upstairs to check out the temporary exhibition in a room of turquoise walls and French doors opening to a balcony garden.
Kathmandu Photo Gallery: 87 Pan Rd (just south of Silom Rd and about one km from Surasak or Chong Nonsi BTS stations); T: (02) 234 6700; http://www.kathmanduphotobkk.com ; open Tue-Sat 11:00-18:00
La Lanta Fine Art
With a Thai name that translates as “Beauty in Abundance”, this classy gallery exhibits exceptional works by a long roster of artists. The idea is for the gallery to be a bridge that simultaneously attracts acclaimed international artists while also discovering and promoting young artists from various Asian countries via the Young Programme. Directors go even further into the city's expressive roots by offering regular art camps for kids.
La Lanta Fine Art: 245/14 Sukhumvit Soi 31 (about one km from Asok and Phrom Phong BTS stations, and Sukhumvit MRT Station); T: (02) 260 5381; (02) 204 0583; http://www.lalanta.com ; open Tue-Sat 10:00-19:00
Sathorn 11 Art Space
Launched in 2016 at a shophouse in Sathorn, this American/Thai-run space hosts exhibitions in a bright front room and has a cool bar where you can chat up local artists in the back. The aim is to nurture promising young Thai artists by providing free studio space, use of the gallery and the owners’ networking skills. Stop by to check out affordable works and perhaps meet a talented artist before they become famous.
Sathorn 11 Art Space: 404 Sathorn Soi 11 (1.5 km southeast of Surasak BTS Station); T: (02) 004 1199; http://www.sathorn11.com/index.html ; open Tue-Sun 11:00-19:00
Kalwit Studio and Gallery
Also representing the grassroots of Bangkok’s art world is Kalwit, named after the owner who converted his house on Soi Ruam Rudee into a small gallery. It doubles as studio space and we watched an artist press prints when stopping by to view an exhibition by recent graduates of Silpakorn University, Thailand’s leading art school and the owner’s alma mater. As with Sathorn 11 Art Space, expect to see imaginative works by talented young artists.
Kalwit Studio and Gallery: 119/14 Ruam Rudee Soi 2 (one km south of Phloen Chit BTS Station); T: (02) 254 4629; https://www.facebook.com/kalwitgallery/; open Tue-Sat 10:00-18:00
This sleek gallery near the ultra-luxury hotels on Ratchadamri Road is run by Sutima Sucharitakul, a Thai curator who spent years getting to know the art scenes of New York and London before returning home. Her international sensibility is evident in art from around the world that often leans towards the daring side of the spectrum. It’s one of the more ambitious, boundary-pushing galleries to hit the Thai capital in recent years.
Nova Contemporary: Ground floor of Baan Somthavil, Mahadlek Luang Soi 3 (100 m east of Ratchadamri BTS Station); T: (090) 910 6863; http://www.novacontemporary.com ; open Tue-Sun 11:00-19:00
WTF Gallery and Cafe
Run by three friends who previously worked as an art curator, photojournalist and hotelier, this hybrid space in Thong Lor hopes to “make connections between people, art and ideas.” It includes a cosy eatery and bar, two floors of gallery space and performances that blur the lines of expression. The gallery often hosts works by artists who aren’t afraid to push Thai social or political boundaries.
WTF Gallery and Cafe: 7 Sukhumvit Soi 51 (300 m northwest of Thong Lo BTS Station); T: (02) 662 6246; http://wtfbangkok.com ; open Tue-Sun 16:00-22:00 for gallery; 18:00-01:00 for cafe/bar
These understated venues are an offshoot of Serindia Publications, which publishes books on Asian arts and culture, and the galleries perpetuate this theme by way of exhibitions by artists from across the continent. The main gallery occupies the ground floor of a heritage house in the quaint OP Garden, near the antique art galleries off Charoen Krung Road in Bang Rak. The group also runs Serindia Annex, a smaller gallery in the Central Embassy mall.
Serindia Gallery: OP Garden, Charoen Krung Soi 36 (300 m northeast of Oriental river ferry pier and half-km north of Saphan Taksin BTS Station); T: (02) 238 6410; http://www.serindiagallery.com ; open Tue-Sun 11:00-19:00
According to a painted message at the door, the artists in charge of Speedy Grandma “insist on a constant, probing and generous interaction with reality.” The shophouse gallery in Talad Noi has a rawness that few others in Bangkok can match—expect philosophical chats and a bohemian vibe at the openings. Grandma gets her hands into pop, urban and abstract art both here and at Soy Sauce Factory, a nearby bar and gallery run by the same folks.
Speedy Grandma: 672/52 Charoen Krung Rd (down an alley 200 m east of River City and Si Phaya river ferry pier); T: (089) 508 3859; https://www.facebook.com/SpeedyGrandma/ ; open Tue-Sun 11:00-19:00
Number 1 Gallery
This cosy gallery hosts exhibitions by Thai artists who often delve into spiritual territory inspired by the oceanic depths of the Buddhist and Hindu outlook on the universe. After several years at the nearby Jewellery Trade Center, the owners moved down the street to a wood house off lower Silom that’s also the site of Hearth, a cafe with vintage sofas and a counter where you can chat up other art enthusiasts.
Number 1 Gallery: 19 Silom Soi 21 (halfway between Silom Rd and Sathorn Rd and half-km northwest of Surasak BTS Station); T: (02) 630 2523; (083) 445 8333; http://www.number1gallery.com ; open Mon-Sat 11:00-19:00
Established in 1998, Thavibu is a commercial gallery specialising in contemporary paintings by Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese artists. You’ll find a diverse range of works by artists who, in the curator’s own words, “express and communicate the imaginative aspects of their culture and reflect concerns that range from the spiritual and aesthetic to the social and political.” It remains the highlight of Silom Galleria in the Jewellery Trade Centre.
Thavibu Art: 4th floor of Jewelry Trade Centre, 919/1 Silom Rd (one km north of Surasak BTS Station); T: (081) 831 9907; http://www.thavibu.com ; open Mon-Sat 11:00-19:00
Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Centre (RCAC)
This partially government-funded gallery is one of the newish public spaces to fill in one of the renovated mid 20th century buildings on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in the old quarter. It’s one of the larger art venues in Bangkok, with exhibitions spotlighting emerging Thai artists that tend to focus on traditional aspects of Thai culture. The top floor features displays on the cultures of other Southeast Asian nations at the ASEAN Cultural Centre.
Ratchadamnoen Contemporary Art Centre (RCAC): 84 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd (just east of Democracy Monument and half-km west of Phanfah Leelard canal boat pier); T: (02) 224 8030 ext. 202 ; http://www.rcac84.com
The Jam Factory
Acclaimed Thai architect Duangrit Bunnag is the brains behind this hybrid creative space stretching over a cluster of old factory buildings on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The gallery featuring rotating exhibitions is just one piece of a puzzle that also includes a bookstore, cafe, studio space, the Bunnag architectural office and a riverside deck. In 2017, Bunnag launched a related creative space, Warehouse 30, in a line of mid 20th century warehouses across the river on Charoen Krung Soi 30.
The Jam Factory: 41/1-5 Charoen Nakhon Rd (down a lane near the river 100 m north of Khlong San cross-river ferry pier and 1.5 km northeast of Krung Thonburi BTS Station); T: (02) 861 0950; https://www.facebook.com/TheJamFactoryBangkok/ ; open daily 10:00-20:00
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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