Monday, July 16, 2012

Best Bangkok Art Galleries - Sathorn Road

art gallery in Bangkok's Sathorn area

H Gallery interior

Three private art galleries and two artsy spaces close to Sathorn and Silom roads are covered in the second chapter of a two-part walking tour.

Updated June 3, 2014. If you have just exited Silom Galleria, whose galleries were described in the first part of the tour, you are now ready for the actual walking portion. (If you want to visit more galleries after this, the three Ardel galleries are covered in a third entry.) Once on Silom Road, turn right, away from the river. You're aiming for the Indian temple and Pan Road.  But after passing a Subway sandwich outlet, you may want to make a little detour on the first lane on your right, Silom Soi 19.

The Reading Room - Arts Library and Events

On Soi 19 is a contemporary art book library and events place, The Reading Room. Turn right onto Soi 19; on the opposite corner of Silom and Soi 19 is a Starbucks in an old wooden building with neo-classical touches. Keep on the right-hand side of Soi 19. Just past an authentic-looking Italian bistro, there will be a sign for a yoga studio and the Reading Room. Climb up the narrow stairway to the cozy  4th floor. There's a wide selection of art and art-related books as well as a coffee and drinks bar. While many of the books are in English, most if not all of talks and workshops are in Thai. Arts-related films will likely be in English or contain English subtitles, if just because they get support from foreign agencies in foundation, so check out the events page of the site.

Immediately next to The Reading Room's street-level entrance is Artery Post-Modern Gallery. It is perhaps related to the the Artery arts-management company in the Galleria. Perhaps it has art exhibitions. But on my recent sighting, it appeared to a combination of graphics design and events company with work space for artists.

Reading Room address: 2 Silom Soi 19, 4th floor
Email: kyo @
Phone:  (66) 02-635-3674 
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 1 pm-7 pm

Backtrack to Silom Road. The aforementioned Starbucks is among a cluster of old, revived white-and-yellow wooden buildings called Baan Silom. The cluster comprises the Heritage Hotel, a coffee cafe and some shops, including a very commercial art gallery. Baan Silom's grassy Silom-facing courtyard sometimes has photogenic sculpture displays. Continuing along down Silom Road, you'll know you're approaching the Indian temple because you will pass a glass-fronted Indian restaurant, the latter serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.  Turn right at the temple onto narrow Pan Road aka Soi Pan. Kathmandu Gallery is only a few hundred meters along on the left-hand side but it is difficult to spot. From the right-hand side of the road it's easier to see the green balcony above Kathmandu's entrance. 

Kathmandu Art Photo Gallery

The two-story gallery in an old shophouse is dedicated to photography and run by Manit Sriwanichpaboom, a well-known photographer. For many years, he made a living as a commercial photographer, shooting for in-flight and business magazines. Nowadays he doesn't need to. He has won many grants from European foundations and the like and his works have been exhibited prominently overseas. Much of his work is critical of the rampant materialism in Thai life and the incursions of Western capitalism in Thailand. 

Usually he shows work by Thai photographers or foreign photographers living in Thailand. Recently he has had exhibitions of rediscovered works by Thai photographers of earlier decades.

Place: Kathmandu Gallery
Kathmandu address: 87 Pan Road
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am to 7 pm
Phone:  02-234-6700
Nearest Skytrain station: Chong Nongsi

H Gallery exterior 

H Gallery - Sathorn area

Pan Road is a varied little soi. As you might expect, there are more small Indian vegetarian restaurants. On the right-hand side, there's even a Sri Lankan one and Bonita, a comfy vegan restaurant run by a Japanese-Thai couple.

The next stop, H Gallery, is a little difficult to find. Continue along Pan Road, past a Malaysian restaurant and the Myanmar Embassy, both on the left (north) side of Pan Road. Turn left when you reach North Sathorn Road. Then left again on Sathorn Soi 12. (If you turn right at North Sathorn, it takes two blocks to reach Surasak Skytrain station.)

The airy gallery is a few hundred meters along on the right-hand side. It's set back from the road in a handsome white and green wooden building, which was once a schoolhouse

American H. Ernest Lee opened the gallery in 2002 with the idea of grooming young Thai artists and exclusively representing them. Nowadays some of the artists represented here are older and established such as Somboon Hormtientong,Therdkiat Wangwatcharakul and Jakkai Siributr. Somboon built an international reputation while living for decades in Germany. Some others whose work has been exhibited are Thailand-based Japanese photographer Masato Seto and Sopheap Pich, a Cambodian who makes interesting works from bamboo, rattan and other fibers.

If you want to skip the Eat Me restaurant, get back on Sathorn Road and continue on northward to reach Whitespace Gallery (more details below). 

Place: H Gallery

H Gallery address: 210 Sathorn Soi 12 (off North Sathorn Road)
Hours: Wednesday to Monday, 10 am-6 pm; Tuesday by appointment
Phone:  081-310-4428
Nearest Skytrain station: Chong Nongsi
Nearest hotels: Metropolitan, Hotel All Seasons, Ascott Sathorn, We Bangkok

H Gallery - Chiang Mai Location

H Gallery also has a branch on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, in Mae Rim. Someday, I hope to do a "best art galleries of Chiang Mai" post but in the meantime I'll plop the details of H Gallery Chiang Mai here. 

Street addresses mean even less up North than they do in Bangkok. Note well that the gallery isn't even in Chiang Mai but in an outlying village called Mae Rim. Here's a Google map with H Gallery indicated. Arm yourself with the phone numbers and tell the taxi driver that the gallery is near Wat Buppharam,  Four Seasons Hotel or the Bai Orchid Butterfly Farm.

Mae Rim is, or was, a charming village nestled by the mountains full of hill tribe people and surrounded by sites like orchid farms, temples and the so-called Buffalo Village. In the past 15 years or so, backpackers' guesthouses have been sidelined by very upscale(4-star and 5-star) resorts and spas. People come here on package tours and stay at  hotels run by international companies like Minor and Accor. The location is far from the worries and increasing pollution of Chiang Mai but a good half-hour from the airport and about 20 kilometers from Chiang Mai city proper. I think most of the gallery visitors come from the hotels in the vicinity or stop by on the way to Green Valley Country Club or an orchid farm rather than traveling all the way from Chiang Mai city.

Place: H Gallery Chiang Mai
Address: 85 Moo 10, Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road, Mae Rim
Hours: Thursday to Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. Other days by appointment
Phone: 085 021 5508
Nearest hotels: Four Seasons, Mae Rim Hotel, Sukantara Cascade Resort, Mae Rim Lagoon

Eat Me Restaurant and Gallery

Therdkiat Wangwatcharakul - eaves and shadows series

Therdkiat Wangwatcharakul, 2012

If you have a good map (probably not Google's), you'll notice that, as the crow flies, the Chong Nongsi Skytrain station is a few hundred meters from H Gallery.

It's on the next street over, to the northeast. There's a lot of construction going on in this area, however, so it's better to retrace your steps to Sathorn Road. Continue along Sathorn and take your first left. It's a wide, busy street and the Skytrain station will be obvious.

Yet farther to the east is a pioneering and pricey restaurant and bar, Eat Me, for which H often selects the changing paintings or photographs on display. At least a decade old, this restaurant has been featured in glossy international travel and gourmet magazines. The cuisine  has become familiar in new boutique hotels and tourism centers throughout the region in the past decade: international modern meets Thai. That means, for example, chili and lime salad with betel leaf, heirloom tomato salad with olive oil ice cream, foie gras and scallops, duck confit with honeyed brussels sprouts and prosciutto--and a good wine menu. Make reservations advised for the evening meal.

The location, Soi Phi Phat, is a little lane off Convent Road, a well-known link between Sathorn and Silom Roads, not too far from the Saladaeng Skytrain station. You must enter the lane from Convent Road side. It can be tricky to find since Thais are poor at directions, maps and street names. Make sure to take down the telephone number or download this map, with locations in both Thai and English.

After Eat Me, if you next want to visit the Whitespace Gallery, get back to Convent Road. Once there, turn right and walk until you hit Sathorn Road (aka Sathorn Neua). Convent Road is narrow and shady and makes for a pleasant walk. When you reach Sathorn, turn left (northward) toward Lumpini Park.

Place: Eat Me restaurant
Eat Me address: 1/6 Soi Phi Phat 2 (or Pipat 2)
Hours: Daily, 3 pm to 1 am
Phone:  02 232-0931
Nearest Skytrain station: Saladaeng
Nearest hotels: Swiss Lodge, HQ Hostel, Inn Saladaeng, Bandara Suites, Grand Diamond Suites

Whitespace Gallery Near Lumpini Park and Rama IV

Whitespace, the newest entry on this walk, isn't a new gallery but this is a new location. Founded in 2006, it used to be in Siam Square in the same building as the Lido Cinema. The plain white space specializes in solo exhibitions of young Thai artists, although a few foreign artists have slipped in. At Whitespace, you might find painting, sculpture, photography, video, installations or conceptual art.

Recent shows featured Pornwipa Suriyakarn's kitschy, cartoony sculptures and the creations of a group of Thai, Singaporean and Burmese artists inspired by money and bank notes.

Whitespace is also an architecture firm specializing in retail interiors, as you can see from the images on the site's links. The co-owners of Whitespace are an American architect, David Mayer, and a Thai artist, Maitree Siriboon.

Whitespace Gallery Location

Getting there: Many people will be familiar with Saladaeng Skytrain station or the restaurants and cafes near the Silom Road end of the narrow road called Soi Saladaeng. Well, Whitespace is near the other end, near Sathorn Road and Rama IV Road, as you can see on this Google map, if it remains functional. 

If you start from Silom Road or Saldaeng Skytrain station, Soi Saladaeng is a pleasant road to walk along and there are plenty of places along the way to get a drink or a snack. Almost at the (Sathorn) end of Saladaeng Road, you'll come to Saladaeng Soi 1 on your left. Follow that soi to the very end. The gallery is on the second floor of an office building on the corner of Soi 1 and Rama IV Road. Eh ... it's difficult to find; make sure you are armed with the telephone numbers.  Otherwise, if you came direct to Whitespace by walking along Sathorn, take a left on Rama IV Road and walk a short way until you reach the intersection with Saladaeng Soi 1.  

After visiting Whitespace, you will be close to Lumpini MRT (subway) station as well as Lumpini Park and Rama IV Road. It you keep walking westward along very busy Rama IV Road, you will eventually come to the intersection with Silom Road, anchored by the Dusit Thani Hotel. Close by is the Silom MRT station, which is connected from above to the Saladaeng Skytrain Station. If you want to reach a Skytrain station from Whitespace ,though, doubling back up to the Chong Nonsi station might be the shortest route. Whether Sathorn Road or Rama IV, neither makes for a pleasant walk. 

Place:  Whitespace Gallery                             
Whitespace address: 1 Saladaeng Soi 1
Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, noon to 6 pm; Monday - Tuesday by appointment
Phone:  081-699-5298   083-828-5384
Nearest BTS stations: Lumpini MRT (subway); Saladaeng or Chong Nongsi Skytrain stations
Nearest hotels: Banyan Tree, Sofitel Sathorn, Saladaeng House, Bandara Suites, Dusit Thani

Closed: Conference of Birds, Catherine Schubert, Surapon

Since I last wrote a gallery round-up a few years ago, three galleries in the Sathorn area have shut down. Back on Pan Road, Conference of Birds was an installation space.  Farther along down Sathorn Road, in the ground floor of the Tisco Building was longstanding Surapon Gallery. Way over on the other side of the southern arm of Sathorn was Catherine Schubert Fine Art. Athough its gallery closed, Catherine Schubert still has a website, which says it continues to represent some Chinese and Western artists but nobody is answering email.

Copyright +Susan Cunningham. No republication without permission. Contact SoutheastAsiaTraveler @

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