Thursday, September 06, 2012

"German Expressionism and the Bangkok Night" at FCCT, Friday, Oct 19th

"Boys Town" - Chris Coles (80x100cm acrylic on canvas)
For anyone who might be interested, I'll be giving an illustrated talk at FCCT on "German Expressionism and the Bangkok Night" on Friday evening, October 19th, per the FCCT announcement below.  
Philip Cornwel-Smith will be providing the introduction and sharing his thoughts/overview on Bangkok's nightlife as a source and inspiration for art, music, literature and movies.  
Followed by a Q and A.

The talk coincides with the Opening/Launch of my "Paintings from the Bangkok Night" exhibition at FCCT  which will be running from October 15th thru November 14th.
FCCT Announcement:
"Paintings from the Bangkok Night" Exhibition by artist Chris Coles
7pm, Friday, October 19, 2012
Free Admission
This special exhibition will present some of Chris Coles' most recent large-format acrylic paintings of various scenes and some of the people who populate the Bangkok Night, an almost infinite neon landscape that stretches from Ratchada to Thaniya Plaza, Surawong Boys Town, Soi Cowboy, Sukhumvit Soi 33, Nana Plaza and beyond; a world inhabited by people from all over Thailand, most of Asia and just about every country on Earth.

Chris Coles is an artist and filmmaker who divides his time between Bangkok and the coast of Maine. He is one of the first artists to explore the chaotic and ambiguous world of the Bangkok Night. His paintings, in the Expressionist style, are jagged and emotional portraits, revealing a raw and primitive layer of the human experience. A book of his paintings, "Navigating the Bangkok Noir", was recently published by Marshall Cavendish Singapore.

As part of the art show's Opening Night, Chris will give a short talk regarding the origins and style of his work titled, "German Expressionism and the Bangkok Night".

Philip Cornwel-Smith, author of VERY THAI and Founding Editor of Bangkok Metro Magazine, will introduce Chris and provide some thoughts on Bangkok's nightlife as a source and inspiration for art, music, literature and movies.

The FCCT exhibition runs from October 16 to November 14.

"Navigating the Bangkok Noir" is available at Kinokuniya and Asia Books stores, and also via the Internet (Bt500 to Bt600 baht, depending upon the supplier).

For more details go to the Chris Coles Gallery website at

For a map of how to get to FCCT @ Penthouse Floor, Meneeya Center, BTS Chitlom:

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Asia Life on Chris Coles FCCT Show Bangkok

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Bangkok's BIG CHILLI magazine on FCCT Show

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Gavroche Magazine on FCCT Show October 2012

Monday, September 03, 2012

"Creatures of the Night" article from The Nation

Nice article/interview in The Nation, Tuesday, October 16th, on "Paintings from the Bangkok Night" show opening at FCCT on Friday October 19th, 7pm.......
Creatures of the night

Artist Chris Coles focuses on the bright lights and dark pulse of Bangkok's infamous nightlife

Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the appeal of places or things that locals can be blind to. For Chris Coles, an American artist who has lived in Bangkok on and off for more than a decade, the urban jungle is the source of his inspiration.

Coles worked in the movie business for a quarter of a century and travelled widely before buying a condo in Bangkok in the late '90s. He says his time in the film industry, with set designers such as Stuart Craig and filmmakers like Roger Deakins, heightened his appreciation and awareness of the sights he encountered in Southeast Asia.

"It was a real eye-opener the first time coming here - visually dense and the energy here. I got really interested in modern Asia. For a Westerner, it's such a different universe."

Most farang, he says, are not used to all the motion and density they initially encounter in the Thai capital. "Thais are quite relaxed and at ease in a lot of dense visual information - holes in the sidewalk, motorcycles, soi dogs, etc - but it overloads your senses. Most Westerners are not used to that in the first year here."

For Coles, whose mother was an artist, just having a meal or a drink in some notorious nightlife areas can be a rich visual feast. "For an artist, it's like sitting next to Niagara Falls."

He talks about art with passion. He is big on the German expressionists such as Emil Nolde, who painted scenes in Berlin in the 1920s, and sees similarities to modern-day Bangkok, which he rates as "the real capital of Southeast Asia" - a city of multiple cultural streams, great infrastructure, and "tremendous visual intensity".

Coles uses colour with similar boldness - bright, vivid images, with characters and scenes from "the noir side of the Bangkok night".

His book, "Navigating the Bangkok Noir", published last year by Marshall Cavendish, portrays the diverse underbelly of life that makes the capital so spicy and colourful.

He makes it sound like a hot tom yum of all the things conservative locals would stir clear of - as his book says: "bargirls, punters, ladyboys, rentboys, and the assorted cast of thugs, scammers, traffickers, dealers, perverts, hitmen and the endless stream of fugitives from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and North America, not to mention Thailand itself".

Coles grew up in a fishing village in Maine on the US Atlantic coast. At 17 he caught a bus to Los Angeles on the West Coast and worked in a Mexican restaurant. The following year he was on a pineapple plantation in Hawaii. Shortly after that he was in the West Australian outback, before returning to the US to study literature at Brown University. He journeyed around Kenya before travelling to London, teaching, and then taking a course at Britain's national film school.

In the late '70s he got into the movie business, working as a production manager on the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve.

By 1995, when he came to Phang Nga to work on "Cutthroat Island", he was a studio executive. Directed by Renny Harlin, the movie starring Geena Davis and Matthew Modine was the biggest bomb in box-office history, but it got him to Thailand.

With less interest in films, and his daughter then at university, he was free to pursue his interest in art and live in Thailand.

Coles graduated from sketching to painting after doing art courses at the Otis School in Los Angeles in 2002. He now paints about eight hours a day at a studio off lower Sukhumvit Road.

"A lot of what I'm doing is coming out of the German expressionist style and out of Nolde," he says. "I paint all day, have lunch or dinner on the street or at a food court, and maybe go to the gym. At 10pm I'm finished and wander around for a couple of hours. I might go to Saphan Taksin, Sukhumvit, Ekamai or get the Skytrain somewhere."

What amazes him is the variety of people one can meet - and paint - here. He talks of sitting and deconstructing a scene while having a bowl of noodles on the sidewalk.

When painting, he likes to use strange lighting and will often focus on a person's face.

"I'm interested in what the face hides that's within, and how the same person in the day, during the Bangkok night suddenly they're something else - like someone set them on fire."


Coles will feature new works in a show at the Foreign Correspondents Club, opening on Friday at 7pm.

Philip Cornwel-Smith, the author of "Very Thai", will give a short introductory talk about how Bangkok's nightlife has been an inspiration for many artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians.

For more details, see

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

BK Magazine Blurb on FCCT Show

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