Showing art in hotel rooms – I definitely wanted to go. First, I researched where the Ad Lib Hotel is because I have never heard about it before. This is not a surprise because there are over 500 hotels in the city. If it is not a 5-star, well-known place, then you probably have not idea about the location. Anyway, Ad Lib Hotel sits right next to Bumrungrad hospital that is world renowned and heavily frequented by middle-eastern and Japanese foreigners as well as the wealthier Thai population.
I have never been there before – let alone in that neighborhood. So, that sounded exciting to me as well. Check out a new area of the city of Angels. I walked from Nana skytrain station down Soi 3 towards the hospital that takes about seven minutes. There are a lot of signs in Arabic, middle-eastern restaurants and shops. I pass the Pakistani embassy and a few non-descript hotels along the way. Surprisingly, the entrance to Bumrungrad is rather small and unpretentious, but it is still hard to miss due to the traffic jam and general bustling and chaos around the place. I walked through the hospital grounds to Ad Lib Hotel that is hidden in a dead-end alley off of Soi 1 on the other side.
The art exhibition was set up on three or four floors of the hotel in sort of an annex building, right off the main entrance. The boutique hotel is certainly quite stylish with dark hallways, minimalist decorations, concrete stairwells and sparse use of color in the rather small rooms.
My first impression was: crowded space! Actually I thought this already before I came to check out the event. In my opinion and based on my experience organizing two exhibitions, hotel rooms don’t really lend themselves as exhibition spaces.
In general they are small, the lightning is not great and more than two people in the room makes it uncomfortable (at least for me). Exactly the experience I had this Saturday afternoon.
The first person I encountered after registration said to me: Everything you see is for sale. It really is a pity for art exhibitions when they are set up by galleries and consultancies rather than the artists.
From my rambling about everything but the art, I have to admit I didn’t really get into the art. I wandered from room to room and saw a few interesting pieces that were confined to this small space, laid out on hotel beds or set up on toilets in tiny bathrooms, but nothing that stopped me in a my tracks and fascinated me beyond the natural curiosity and my interest in all things artsy.
The slogan or objective of the art fair was to “bring art closer to the audience”. In a sense this exhibition really did a great job of that because you were standing inches away from the art pieces or you squeezed through a hallway past a bathroom almost touching the picture frames on the wall. One guest even came so close to a large frame-painting that leaned against the wall on the floor that it tipped over or slid down and burst into a million glass pieces. I guess the paining was still OK, but the frame was definitely history and the guest – I am not sure what happened to him or her.
Coming back to “closeness” to art. I don’t think that the exhibition helped the layperson to get a better understanding of the art. There was simply not enough room or space to reflect on the art pieces and take them in and “digest” or let a dialogue develop between the viewer and the art.
In most rooms the gallery person and maybe the artists were sitting and chatting with each other or a potential client. Agreed – this would have been the opportunity to get closer to the “art”ist. I didn’t take it!
The other reason why I am not sure that their exhibition was brining art closer to the audience was that it was not obvious (to me) by which criteria the artists or pieces were selected. It appeared that the curator only wanted to show Thai (and some foreign) art, regardless of an overall theme or topic. That, of course, ensured that there was something for everyone and maybe it was more attractive to a wider audience.
Overall though, including free coffee and snacks, it was an interesting venue in a cute, little boutique hotel, with some interesting pieces of art that warrant further study. It is especially great that different groups now offer more cultural activities in Bangkok.
This will put Bangkok on the map not only as a shopping, entertainment and tourist destination, but also a culturally interesting place to visit.