As an avid art collector, when I moved to Bangkok I was in heaven. Not only could I indulge my passion for buying original artwork even more, as prices were so cheap, but I could also help support talented local artists by buying directly from them or from stores paying a fair price for their work. Ten years later, buying art is still something I do often, but now I have my favorite places. The best shops, galleries or markets in Bangkok where I find interesting work, at affordable prices, and where I can support Thai artists and, in some cases, even speak to them about their work.
Chatuchak Weekend Market – South east Asia’s largest outdoor market, with more than 15,000 stalls, Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the best places in Bangkok to buy original artwork. Section 7, at the far end of the market, is where you’ll find booths and small galleries owned by local artists. Artwork runs the gamut from traditional Buddhist images, which are gorgeous, to contemporary art in a pop art or abstract style, and everything in between. Pieces range from tiny miniatures to massive wall-sized paintings, as well as sculptures, statues, elaborately painted boxes and hundreds of other items.
One wonderful thing about buying original artwork at Chatuchak is many artists will also work on commission, painting specifically what you want, and at prices not much more expensive than buying an already existing piece.
Chatuchak has numerous shipping booths so, once you’ve bought a piece, artists can get it packed and shipped to your home, even overseas, for an inexpensive charge.
Get to Chatuchak Weekend Market on the BTS sky train. Exit at Mo Chit station, the end of the line, and follow the massive crowd. The market is next to the sky train.
Talad Lot Fai (Railway Market) – As many sellers here are local university students or young artists, you’ll also find a few people selling original artwork. Mainly paintings or painted wooden boxes, some are unusual and, for the low price some artists ask, you can pick up interesting pieces for an affordable price.
The last time I was at Talad Lot Fai, I bought a tiny original painting from an artist who is currently studying at Chulalongkorn University. For only 600 baht ($20), I’m now the proud owner of a lovely contemporary elephant painting, and the artist told me he’d be buying more art supplies with the money he made. A win-win for both of us.
Talad Lot Fai is easy to get to from Khampaeng Phet MRT underground station. Open every Saturday and Sunday night, the attendant in the train ticket booth can give you directions.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) – A Bangkok art museum, which only opened in 2008, the administrators have done a nice job of opening up shop space to artists, both new and established, to sell their work. In the past few months, I’ve seen paintings, drawings, photography, and sculptures made from “found” items that had a definitely uniquely Thai quality to them. The centre also has a variety of cafes and restaurants, and an art library, as well as a cute play area for kids.
The BACC is next to National Stadium BTS sky train, so has to be the easiest museum in Bangkok to get to.
Silom Galleria – If you don’t feel like trailing around in Bangkok’s excessive heat, Silom Galleria has at least eight small art galleries, including Thavibu, which concentrates on new and young artists from Thailand, Vietnam and Burma. You can easily spend 2-3 hours here, wandering through the various galleries, and see a huge variety of artwork. Prices, of course, are much higher than at local markets or directly from artists themselves, but you may still be pleasantly surprised at the prices compared to a similar western gallery, and the quality of work is stunning.
Silom Galleria is at 919/1 Silom Road in.Bangkok and is just a few minutes walk from Surasak BTS sky train station.