After being struggled at home after the pandemic lockdown, finally, it’s time for me to explore the world to satisfy my thirst. In Zurich, Switzerland, I prepared myself for a day trip to Basel at a distance similar to the route from Bangkok to Chonburi Province. Normally, I make a visit here at a certain time of the year regarding the greatest art fair ever that is named after the town ‘Basel’. Here, ‘Art Basel’ has been held in June for ages.
If compared, ‘Art Basel Fair’ seemed like a ‘Red Cross Fair’ for art enthusiasts in the luxurious market unlike what we had in Thailand. The fair was set in the colossal halls. Consequently, it took me more than a day to survey leisurely. The ticket could be bought at the front of the building at a dear price, 2,000 THB per person. But that day was a preview day which the normal ticket was ineligible. Only the VIP ticket bearer could access the fair without cramping into the crowd. I was lucky enough to have a ticket for the preview day supported by my senior. This gave me a sense of being a VIP person.
Before entering the fair, I needed to download an application into my mobile which was needed to scan for the entry. Inside the application was information about the fair, maps, news, and interesting fact for those who had time to venture, but it was not me. I had no time to waste. The exhibition was separately set in different halls sprawling in the town. Some zones situated scalable sculptures which were larger than the normal halls. Some wall paintings and tower-high sculptures could be seen in a particular area. Some installation art covered the size of a basketball court. Each one had details of the gallery attached for interesting guests whose estates were large enough to fill up with.
The most fascinating and thronged zone was the next hall where copious art galleries from several countries showcased their magnificent works to hook the audiences’ attention. Most works had been performed in contemporary art style created by living artists. Some of them looked so grotesque that it took my time a little while to figure out their hidden messages, such as a giant inflatable ball that was automatically puffed up or out, freakish sculptures, space-looked welding iron, and art stuff coated with gold, silver, or colorful paints creating the sense of the unnatural look. Additionally, some presented an upside-down house hanging from the ceiling with washing bowl-sized cockroaches scrambling around. (Yak!) Nonetheless, some featured sensible modern art from artists living in the past century, such as Picasso, Giacometti, Calder, Moore, Chagall, Warhol, Basquiat, etc. Some of them cost well over one billion THB. Thanks to the gallery owners for their kindness in showcasing those priceless works an arm-length distance. Due to the invaluable art pieces displayed at the fair, the VIP guests were not ordinary ones. On that day, I rubbed my shoulders with world-class reputed guests, such as celebrities and superstars. Admittedly, I didn’t even know them, but the only one I knew well was Roger Federer, the prodigious tennis professional.
To my delight, while I was strolling along to research and update myself about the global artistic trend, I came across an artwork from a Thai artist: Mr. Korrakrit Arunanondhachai. His presentation of a scorched pair of jeans. This stunned me at the first sight, so I, unreluctantly, took a lot of photos of them. Shot after shot until I felt fulfilled, just realized my national pride running through my body, my veins, and my mind. Despite Picasso’s work hanging upfront with an untouchable price, I never felt as astonished as seeing the one from Thailand at this fabulous art fair. It would be great if other Thai artists could have a chance to feature their works globally. Frankly speaking, Thai artists’ works and performances can withstand the western arts if the gallery gives handsome support with a good marketing strategy. This could pave the way for those skillful artists to the international market.
Alternatively, apart from encouraging Thai artists to the international market, Thailand, itself, has been qualified for being a venue of the global art fair as well. For example, in the old time, initiating the ‘Art Basel Fair’ was not as complicated as everyone thought. This fair has been established since 1970 by a gallery owner named ‘Ernst Beyeler’. With the kind assistance of the Basel town council, this art fair has been warmly welcomed and popular among art fans ever since. In the first period, the gallery booths were well under a hundred with just over ten thousand attendees, but those numbers have been growing steadily. Currently, there are well over 300 gallery booths and almost a hundred thousand audiences around the world. As well as this, the Art Basel organizer has affiliated with numerous well-known towns and placed its name at the front, such as Art Basel Miami, Art Basel Hongkong, and Art Basel Paris, resulting in wide acknowledgment and popularity among the art nuts.
Did you see something?
As all of us know that Thailand has been ranked as the world’s top holiday destination. Holding a world-class art fair is possible for Thailand to draw large income to stimulate the country’s economy. It is believed that a number of corporates can excel in their capability to drive this global fair successfully with abundant cooperation from the government. It’s not a day-dream project if the government gives generous support in exporting process and import tax reduction to strengthen the country’s art market. Tax waiving for unsold artworks or sold out to foreigners should be done. Various redundant processes need to be eliminated. Should this plan become true, Art Bangkok is not beyond our dream. We would experience Art Bangkok holding in different parts of the world like Art Bangkok Beijing, Art Bangkok Tokyo, Art Bangkok London, or Art Bangkok New York. Who knows?