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Khun Dashy and the walls of D GALLERY

Jai D: Art Finds an Island Home

Tuesday, January 29, 2008
ART and Phuket have been struggling to find a meeting place. Let's face it, the island is no Bali, where everyone dances, plays a musical instrument or paints.

Copy art is what passes for art on Phuket. Or there is art of a kind, the kind that really only serves as decoration. It looks pretty, so it must be art, right?

Hmmm . . . well, no, not really.

Now, at long last, Phuket has some real art and in one of the most unlikely places, the Royal Phuket Marina.

It's worth braving the extra-long driveway to the stone fortress to find D GALLERY.

Here, in a large space that offers cerebral sustinence on almost every wall, Phuket has a new experience. Art.

Not copies, not decorator's pieces. Yes folks, Art.

It's a delight to see the work of 14 painters, six Thais and eight Vietnamese, adorning the walls. There are 75 pieces in all.

The gallery is the creation of managing director Pornthip ''Dashy'' Raksapiksu and her partner, Rob Collins.

Khun Dashy spent three years studying architecture then moved into interior design before a five-year stint in a Bangkok gallery.

The couple, regular visitors to Phuket, eventually decided to open their own gallery as a showcase for some of the region's genuine talents.

Having seen some of the best that Europe has to offer in terms of art, Khun Dashy wanted to encourage more people to see what she sees in these works.

So among the options are vivid portraits, political and social commentary, pop art satires and photo realism.

Bart Simpson and Mickey Mouse even make guest appearances in unlikely places. How cross-cultural is it possible to be?

Khun Dashy says that Vietnam achieved a headstart in art because of its French connection but she thinks it will not be long before Thai artists achieve similar international recognition.

One large work in oil on aluminium sheets shows a man curled up on a long bench with Colonel Sanders of KFC fame looming above him, and pigeons pecking at a tin can in the foreground.

It's a clash of cultures on the streets of Bangkok, subtly translated and strikingly potent. The work, 'Lonely,' has been bought by an Italian businessman for 350,000 baht and will soon be shipped back to hang in his offices in Rome.

As time passes, more Thai artists are likely to receive that kind of recognition. Khun Dashy plans to stage a series of solo showings through 2008 and eventually include artists from elsewhere in South-east Asia, too.

As Khun Dashy points out, people buying up-market villas on Phuket are unlikely to go to Bangkok to find art for the walls, so opening a gallery on Phuket that goes beyond mere decoration is a shrewd move.

Meanwhile, some of the island's copy artists could benefit from a look at the original thinking that goes into D GALLERY.

It's a sign that Phuket has come of age. Most of these works are likely to appreciate in value over time, so for some it's an investment in beauty.

Therdkiat Wangwatcharakul, the painter of 'Lonely,' will have a solo exhibition at the gallery from March 8-29.

D GALLERY open Tuesdays-Saturdays 11am-7pm, Sundays noon-6pm. Closed Mondays.

D GALLERY is a contender for the Phuketwan Innovation of the Year Award 2008

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Wednesday February 21, 2024
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