Bangkok Boys Town
From a series of 100cm x 80cm acrylic on canvas paintings I am doing of the Bangkok Night for my next show.......
Chris Coles Expressionist Paintings from the Bangkok Night.........
Coles’ paintings have a bitter-sweet glow all of their own, taking us down the crummy sois, letting us look at the city from a street dog’s perspective (who is really a German sex tourist, we are told), helping us understand that the world is unfair, and that as soon as it gets dark, unfairness goes at a premium in the City of Angels. The artist manages a difficult hat trick. His night girls are beautiful and tragic at the same time. His johns are as gross as in real life and yet they have charisma. His world is sleazy, sure, but it exists and the artist has a gentle way of explaining why it has a right to do so, just as much as any other world out there.
There is reason to paint these people – that appears to be the central premise of Coles’ work – and the artist knows how to pick his characters, men and women of an inconsequential neon-netherworld that exists primarily because it offers an escape from the equally sordid and boring but less exotic real world its inhabitants came from. The girls leave their villages because girls have very very little opportunity in Thailand and the men fly in from around the world because they can no longer cope with their lives and loves and prefer to pay for female (or otherwise) company or are so lonely that they will accept semi-literate rice farmers as MCs providing psychiatric discourse on the hang-ups of the western world.
Chris Coles catches the nuances, the small pains and tiny losses and gains that are made each night on Sukhumvit, Bangkok’s main downtown thoroughfare: he captures the tide of emotional refuse that washes up on the Thai capital’s pavements. The women emerge with dignity intact, while the men don’t emerge at all. They are what they are, empty, broken human beings who roll around in it.
Navigating the Bangkok Noir is an excellent introduction to Southeast Asia’s Interzone, to the black patches on the global map of capitalist indifference, and to the lost opportunities of thousands of young Thai women who get screwed, both literally and metaphorically, day in, day out, by their government, by society, by the cops, by peer pressure and by foreigners. I don’t see this book in the Top Ten of the Ministry of Culture any time soon. It’s got too much soul......."