In October, the city’s biggest international contemporary art fair—Bangkok Art Biennale (BAB 2020)—returned for its second run. This year, 82 artistic masterminds from 35 countries are showcasing a total of over 200 artworks.
The number of pieces on display could have been more but, because of the pandemic, a number of artists were unable to submit their pieces. What BAB 2020 has, however, is still enough to claim its stance as the biggest art event in the country.
Working with the theme “Escape Route”, BAB 2020 aims to take everyone on a journey of hope, reflection and beauty in a world besieged by the horrid fallout of COVID-19, as well as grave global issues like trade wars, territorial disputes, racism, social inequality and climate change.
Ten art venues are participating in the festival, including The Parq, BAB BOX, The Prelude @ One Bangkok, Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonkalaram Ratchawaramahawihan (Wat Pho), Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan, Wat Prayurawongsawas Worawihan, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), Lhong 1919, Museum Siam, and River City Bangkok.
One of the Biennale’s biggest highlights is an installation by Ai Weiwei, the famed Chinese artist and activist known for expressionist creations that take jabs at injustice and authority. His staggering Law of the Journey (2016), now displayed on the ninth floor of BACC, depicts a 60-meter-long inflatable boat crammed with faceless refugees.
Also at BACC is a collection of paintings by Lampu Kansanoh, the Thai artist best known for tongue-in-cheek pieces that reflect life’s day-to-day monotony with wacky unreality. Lampu only spent around nine days to create this collection for BAB 2020, but each painting is a striking revelation, disclosing intricate details worth staring at and divulging social commentaries worth pondering.
The art center is also playing host to Hong Kong artist Lu Yang’s visionary art, which combines animation, video games, holograms and virtual reality, and special screenings of film director Pen-ek Rattanaruang’s Two Little Soldiers (2020).
Moving onto The Parq, visitors will be struck by Note Kritsada’s Tooth Clinic, an immersive installation rooted in the artist’s childhood memory about visiting a dentist and an exploration of the growing up process. Narongyot Thongyu, meanwhile, also delves into the wonder of childhood with hanging toys crafted from rubbish found in the sea.
Thai-Japanese artist Yuree Kensaku’s art pieces, which revolve around social issues like gender, politics and culture, are also displayed at The Parq. BLEU BLANC ROUGE (Blue, White, Red) is a must-see painting inspired by her time in France.
Two sculptures by world-renowned British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor are also some of the biggest draws of BAB 2020. Push Pull II, now displayed at Wat Pho’s Sermon Hall, features a massive wheel-like object made of deep red wax and oil pigment. His other piece, Sky Mirror, a reflective stainless steel plate angled up toward the sky, temporarily graces the holy lawn of Wat Arun.
Museum Siam hosts a site-specific installation by Ruangsak Anuwatwimon, who uses 98 species of plants to demonstrate his interest in art, nature and human evolution while tackling the issue of environmental awareness. Burmese artist Khvay Samnang showcases his multidisciplinary talents via his motion picture Popil (2018), which portrays two dancers performing a modern interpretation of the classical Khmer dance Robam Kbach Boran.
Visit the official Facebook page of Bangkok Art Biennale 2020 here for more highlights and for information on special events. BAB 2020 will run until 31 January 2021.