Thursday, February 11 marked the official opening of the Different Perspectives exhibition at Silpakorn University’s PSG Art Gallery, by French artist Marie Chantal Biela. The event took place at dusk in the cozy grounds of the gallery, a plain white single-storey building, and was attended by Bangkok-based diplomats, local celebrities such as famous Thai singer and entrepreneur Kamala Sukosol, art professors and students from Silpakorn University, and a mixed crowd of locals and foreigners.
Comprised of 96 pieces hung on walls and from the ceiling, and placed in the middle of the entrance hall, the exhibition is well designed to fit the space. It is thematically displayed, grouped into six series, each of which is made up of pieces varying in media and techniques. Cherishing the concept of difference in human thoughts and feelings, the artist encourages viewers to come up with their own interpretations of the pieces, see how they feel about them, and even make up their own versions of the pieces' stories and journeys.
Different Perspectives is Biela's third solo exhibition in Bangkok, and her most challenging one to prepare for. Expressing gratitude for the support of her husband Marc Michielsen, the Belgian ambassador to Thailand, who helped to plan the display and install the pieces, she said she also much appreciated the support of Silpakorn University, her friends, and the many people interested in her passion. “I can't thank enough the people who have shown up and will do”, she said. “I've already had a few comments and feedback from viewers. These are important ingredients for 'the what's next'.”
Thavorn Ko-Udomvit, Vice President for Art and Culture of Silpakorn University and a friend of Biela for over 10 years, cites her as one of the most enthusiastic artists he knows. “She would simply come here [to the gallery] for breakfast or coffee, and chat with different artists and art students to exchange ideas and get inspiration for her work. Her art looks simple, it is minimal, but it is deep and strong.
“The repeated use of media and techniques in one series emphasizes a certain idea or ideas that the series conveys, and invites you to look at the pieces in that one series over again and again,” added Ko-Udomvit.
It’s no huge surprise that the pieces drew different opinions from the crowd. “It's a wonderful exhibition”, said Glyn Davies, the US Ambassador to Thailand. “It shows her eclectic points of view and interest. Different pieces and the ways they're displayed have been chosen to tell different stories. When you look at the whole thing together, you come away with a mood and a question. They made me feel curious, have different feelings. They're uplifting, positive, exciting, and inspirational.”
On the other side of the gallery, Cambodian Ambassador Sophea Eat, taking in the Spirit/Rescue series, said: “You need to stand there and think what the pieces want to convey. The titles of the pieces don't give you any clues. It gives me, as viewer, lots of freedom to think. Like this series, the eyes might always have the same shape, but they can definitely convey different expressions.”
The exhibition runs until February 27 at PSG Art Gallery, Faculty of Painting Sculpture and Graphic Arts, at Silpakorn University, Wang Tha Phra Campus. The gallery is open from Monday to Saturday, 10am-6pm. It is closed on Sundays and public holidays, including the upcoming Makha Bucha Day on February 22.