Moca - Museum of Contemporary Art Bangkok
MOCA Art Gallery in Bangkok
A must for any lover of art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bangkok (MOCA) houses the most comprehensive collection of modern painting and sculpture in Thailand inside a striking, purpose built gallery. The five storeys of MOCA contain over 800 pieces of art collected by communications magnate Boonchai Bencharongkul and showcase the development of Thai fine art since the introduction of modern western concepts. The museum is open from 10:00 to 18:00, Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Monday), and costs 180 baht for the general public. It costs 80 baht for students and for visitors over the age of 60 or under 15, admission is free.
MOCA is everything a world class art gallery should be: thought provoking, beautiful and, in parts, funny. Thailand has, at times, been criticised for ‘sugar coating’ many of the social issues that the country faces, and that is why MOCA is so refreshing: a place where artists are free to explore themes such as religion, corruption, prostitution and the loss of traditional values. All of Thailand’s National Artist recipients have pieces on display and although you could whizz through the gallery in a couple of hours, to really experience it we recommend spending up to four hours here.
Built in 2012, MOCA has been specifically designed to give guests the best possible conditions for appreciating the art on show. Lots of natural light and well spaced rooms ensure this art gallery is equal to any abroad. There is a coffee shop on the ground floor serving Twinings tea, hot chocolate and coffee from the Royal Patronage Project which tries to promote fair trade and sustainability. However, the food on offer is severely lacking with only pre-packed sandwiches and biscuits for sale.
While Thailand is renowned for its traditions and culture, there have been few art galleries of international standard to showcase the growing number of world class Thai artists. The Museum Of Contemporary Art in Bangkok is now providing a space in which to display the best of Thai art for everyone to enjoy.
Artists to Look Out For
Prateep Khotchabua’s art is striking, both for its bold use of colour and playful, sometimes surrealist scenes. Animalism and nudity is a prominent theme in several of his works, sometimes with one animal morphing into another. However, I most enjoyed his work Luang Ta Ma (Traditional Thai Music), 2002, which is a portrait of a rural family cavorting by the riverside. The attention to detail is fantastic and every family member is present and enjoying a facet of Thai life that is today in decline or already gone. Young boys can be seen catching shrimp in the river while up on the pavilion men sit around a jar betting on a fish fight; cats, dogs and chickens are scampering here and there and the whole scene seems boisterous yet full of a sense of community.
Chalermchai Kositpipat, designer of the famous all-white temple (Wat Rong Khun) in Chiang Rai province, has several of his paintings on permanent display at MOCA. Combining Buddhist themes with a traditional Thai style, he explores the relevance of Buddhism even in today’s urban environment. There is a vibrant pointillist style painting on the second floor by Preecha Pun-Klum entitled Glamourous Night in Bangkok, 2009, that captures the hectic energy of Bangkok by night, and on the fourth floor, three gigantic paintings depict The Three Kingdoms – Heaven, Earth and Hell – with astounding attention to detail.
On the fifth floor is a special wing dedicated to European painters from the Victorian era, with many fine period pieces, as well as an ensemble of Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian and Japanese artwork. You will also find rooms dedicated to the lifetime achievements of two of Thailand’s most revered artists – Chalood Nimsamer, who uses the recurring image of his daughter to represent peace, warmth and gentleness, and the late Paitun Muangsomboon (d.1999) who was a central figure in the progression of sculpture from that of ideals to that of hyper-realism – both of whom are regarded as National Artists in Sculpture.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00, Tuesday to Sunday (Closed on Monday)
- Location: MOCA is only reachable by taxi. The five storey building is easy to spot from Vibhavadi Road, but the taxi must go past the museum and make a U-turn on Changwattana Road, travelling back down a small road beside the train tracks.
- BTS: Mo Chit (still requires a 10 minute taxi journey)
- Address: 3 Vibhavadi Rangsit, Chatuchak, Bangkok
- Tel: +66 (0) 2953 1005
- Price Range: 180 baht – Student: 80 baht – children/OAP: Free