Explore Thai contemporary art
Published/Last edited or updated: 31st August, 2017
MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) spans five floors and 20,000 square metres of gallery space displaying hundreds of works by many of the top Thai artists of the last century. It’s absolutely worth the 250 baht ticket and the trip up to North Bangkok.
Thai telecommunications mogul Boonchai Bencharongkul established the museum in 2012 to exhibit works from his private collection while also providing Bangkok with a top-notch art museum. Done up with spacious rooms, high ceilings and plenty of light, the museum was dedicated to Corrado Feroci (aka Silpa Bhirasri), the Italian sculptor who worked in Thailand from the early to mid 20th century. He founded Silpakorn University, the kingdom’s leading art school that trained many of the artists showcased at MOCA.
Much of the art rifts on elements of Thai society and spirituality. Thongchai Srisukprasert’s work weaves futuristic undercurrents into temple-style murals. Sriwan Janehattakarnit’s gripping portrayals of skeletons call to mind the impermanence of life. Prateep Kochabua’s wildly imaginative interplay between creatures and humans seems to emerge from the depths of sub-consciousness with remarkable clarity. On the lighter side, the cartoonish paintings of Lumpu Kansanoh express simple joys of Thai life.
The fourth floor is dedicated to Thai “great artists” and includes dozens of paintings by the late Thawan Duchanee, whose abstract paintings of animals and demons blend brutality and gracefulness in an instantly recognisable style. Another room features a mix of paintings by some dozens of eminent 20th century artists like Tawee Nandakwang and Angkarn Kalayanapongsa. From there you can take a “passage through the universe” ending at a room with three massive paintings representing plains of existence in the Buddhist view.
Though MOCA mainly focuses on Thai artists of the last century, the top floor displays a bunch of works by contemporary artists from around the globe, including many from elsewhere in Asia. Here you’ll also find an out-of-place collection of Romantic-period paintings by 18th and 19th century European artists, such as John William Godward and Pierre Auguste.
Before you go, pop into the temporary exhibition on the ground floor before taking a stroll through a garden and amphitheatre featuring a statue of Ganesha, patron of the arts in Hindu mythology. You’ll also find the standard coffee shop, gift shop and patient staffers who speak excellent English.
The only annoying part is MOCA’s location beside a highway in Bangkok’s far northern reaches. It will be a lot easier to reach when nearby Bang Khen Station on the SRT Red Line, an elevated extension of the metro system, is completed around 2020. For now it’s not too difficult to get here by taxi or regular train (see below). The ticket is not cheap but there’s no double pricing for foreigners and Thais.
MOCA is located just off Vibhavadi-Rangsit Rd (the main highway to Don Muang Airport). You can get here by taxi from anywhere in the city, though we suggest catching one at Mo Chit BTS Station because there will be a better chance the driver will know the museum—expect to pay around 100 baht each way. If the driver doesn’t know MOCA, ask them to take you to Bang Khen Railway Station, located a few hundred metres south of the museum. If you don’t mind a slower trip for cheaper, you could catch a regular train to Bang Khen departing Hualamphong Station hourly throughout the day. When heading back to the city, staff can flag down a taxi or tell you how to cross the highway using a pedestrian bridge to catch a bus back to Mo Chit.
Address: 499 Kamphaeng Phet 6 Rd, Chatuchak
T: (02) 016 5666-7;
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º33'44.14" E, 13º51'6.92" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: 250 baht for adults; free for children and seniors
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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