Friday, August 26, 2022

Night Spectacle


My book of Expressionist Style paintings of Bangkok's nightlife titled NIGHT SPECTACLE.....
(available on Amazon dot com as a quality paperback or e-book)

Walking Street
Iranian Guy and Blond Ladyboy
The Green View Hotel
Walk on the Wild Side
V2O Ince Bar
Baccara Agogo
Ladyboy Agogo on Walking Street

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Thursday, August 25, 2022

Bangkok Neon

My book BANGKOK NEON.....the glorious colors of the Bangkok Night.....available on Amazon dot com...
From Bangkok Neon Show at Check Inn 99
Bangkok Boys Town
Plaza Massage Neon
Nana Plaza
Renoir Club Soi 33
Lucifer Discoteque
Lucky Luciano Club
G-Spot Agogo Nana Plaza
Emmanuelle Massage Palance Ratchada
Dollhouse Agogo Soi Cowboy
Dali Bar
Check Inn 99 Lower Sukhumvit
Charming Bar
KTV Hostess Girls
Soi Cowboy

THE NATION: "Beacons in a Boozy Night" by Paul Dorsey

Check Inn 99 Impraesario Chris Catto-Smith, Paul Dorsey & Chris Coles
at Check Inn 99 on Sukhumvit Soi 33 for BANGKOK NEON Show

Beacons in the boozy night

Art November 24, 2017 01:00

By Paul Dorsey 
The Nation

3,418 Viewed

In paintings fiery with fluorescent light, Chris Coles saves from extinction those teasing, tempting neon signs

American artist Chris Coles has been wandering Bangkok’s streets by night for years, hypnotised like a deer in the headlights by the giddy, gaudy neon signage, and then going home to his lower-Sukhumvit studio to paint it from seared, still-hot memory. It’s a wonder his vision isn’t completely burned out. 

Except in those occasional moments when Coles isn’t in a rolling rage against Donald Trump, his gaze does tend to glaze, but his vision is just fine. He sees Bangkok after dark better than anyone around, and that includes the native street hawkers and hawkeyed ladies who share this town’s shadows.

Coles was able to give his retinas a rest on a recent visit home to the relaxing shores of Maine (habitat of many deer – and also lobsters, as Bangkok diners know). But the Atlantic had its own variation on frantic for Coles, because he was also trying to mount a show in New York City.

The presentation in the Big Apple would have entailed his portraits of that Trump fellow and his bobbing and weaving band of White House advisers, a rogue’s gallery that Coles has been gleefully sharing on Facebook the past year. 

Alas, the New York show didn’t work out, amazingly enough for a place that seems to hate Trump, its hometown boy, more than any other US constituency. Still, a lot of folks in Thailand (maybe even General Prayut, who’s met some of those Washingtonians) would love to see the politicians’ paintings too, and maybe someday.

For now, in the Big Mango, we have an entirely different selection of Coles’ work to enjoy until mid-December, and a lot of it too – more than 50 pieces in all – in the exhibition “Bangkok Neon” at Check Inn 99, a roomy and always fun restaurant-cabaret on Sukhumvit Soi 33.

Just opened last Thursday, the exhibition is a glowering beast of a sight. And although Tracey Emin would be in her element there (pun explicitly intended), it’s not all feverish tubular lettering. There are portraits in this one as well, and the farang faces are quite familiar to those who follow expat literature and music.

Check Inn’s congenial Australian proprietor Chris Catto-Smith has obliged with a battery of blacklights to make the fluorescent paintings pop, the better to mimic the jarring effect that neon triggers in the dusk. The club, taking over the digs formerly known as Christie’s (in homage to the auction house), proves a highly accommodating venue for displaying art, but more on that in a moment.

Coles prides himself on the rough, seemingly hasty brushwork and jaunty composition that characterised the early-20th-century German Expressionism he admires so much, and it’s a style that lends itself perfectly to depictions of Bangkok after sundown, in the figures, the settings they haunt and the electrified gaslight that illuminates them.

His human subjects, or at least those who’ve known they were posing for him, often comment (amused but approvingly) on their jarring blue hair or green complexions, but of course that’s entirely the result of the unnatural lighting that enfolded them when Coles’ eyes snapped the shutter.

And now for a lesson in neon:   

Neon, which is indeed a variant on the Greek for “new”, has been glowing in the urban darkness since 1898, when British chemists William Ramsay and Morris Travers ignited a rapid (figurative) explosion of gas discoveries. But nitrogen, oxygen, argon and krypton, they agreed, don’t look particularly sexy when you turn off the lights.

Ramsay chilled a lungful of air until it liquefied, then warmed it and captured the gases boiling off. Once he’d bottled krypton, he was left with a gas that glowed brilliant redorange under a rudimentary spectrometer – “a sight to dwell upon and never forget”, Travers said. (They discovered xenon next, but they just went, “Meh.”)

Until 1902, the problem with pouring neon into light bulbs was its scarcity. Industrial-scale manufacture solved that, and by 1910 it was being shovelled into sealed tubes, although homeowners found the colour a bit garish for domestic purposes. It took another two years before its utility in advertising signs made neon a success, and it played a central role in the combustion of America’s “century of progress”.

By the 1960s, Thailand was hotwiring its own century of success and neon was lighting up the nightlife, but in recent years the Golden Age of Red-Orange (and all the other colours that neon was trained to generate) has dimmed.

Try telling that to the first-time tourist on Soi Cowboy or Pattaya’s Walking Street, but the fact is that a great many neon signs in Bangkok have been pulled down and, despite their often-ornate artistry, they’re being heartlessly discarded. 

Soi 33, where Check Inn 99 occupies the old Christie’s, became known as Soi Dead Artists because of all the clubs there named after famous painters – Degas, Goya, Renoir, Picasso, Dali et al. Those places all had memorable neon signs forging their patron artists’ signatures, but both the clubs and the signs are almost all gone now. 

Fortunately, our resident master of noir visuals, Chris Coles, has long been on a self-appointed mission to document the Bangkok night, and he’s dutifully recorded the signage that pulled in the punters. 

(His effort to “bottle” the Bangkok night is a one-man undertaking, he points out with almost comical dismay – with the sole exception of Peter Klashorst, whose preferred turf is Phnom Penh. There were “hundreds of artists” on the job in old Paris and Berlin. But the contemporary Bangkok night “has” to be documented, Coles insists, because it too is “unique in the history of the world”.)


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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Bangkok Noir at Check Inn 99

My book BANGKOK NOIR AT CHECK INN 99 now available worldwide on Amazon dot com e-book or quality paperback.......
Check Inn 99's iconic entrance awning on Lower Sukhumvit...
The entrance tunnel, dark and disturbing....

The entrance tunnel collage....
More entrance tunnel collage....
Even more entrance tunnel collage...
Music of the Heart Band in Action...
Check Inn 99 Impraesario Chris Catto-Smith...
Author Christopher G. Moore...
Author John Burdett...
Author Cara Black...
Author John Gartland...
Author Tom Vater...
Author Jame DiBiasio...
Author James Newman...
Author Dean Barrett...
Authors Philip Cornwel-Smith and Tom Vater...
Author and Artist Chris Coles...
BangkokEyes Author Norm in front of my iconic Crazy Hour painting...
Author Stephen Leather...
"Soi Cowboy"
"Spirit House Japanese KTV Sukhumvit Soi 31"
"Bangkok Boys Town"
Check Inn 99 audience Bangkok Noir Night...
Chris Coles and his iconic Blond Gogo Dancer painting...
"Beer Bar Sukhumvit Soi 22"
Cover Bangkok Noir Anthology...
Chris  Coles and Christopher G. Moore at Check Inn 99...

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