“ART-THAI-TIME” Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art Revisited
Head of Curatorial Team: Chatvichai Promadhattavedi
Curatorial Team: Numthong Saetang, Paisal Theerapongvisanuporn, Sitthidham Rohitasuk and Narongsak Nilkhet
Commemorating 100 years since the arrival in Siam in 1926 of Corrado Feroci, an Italian sculptor who played a prominent role in the development of Thai modern art and who later came to be known as Father of Modern Art in Thailand, an exhibition will be held to reflect on his cultural legacy left behind for his adopted country.
Apart from his state-commissioned sculptural works on important monuments throughout Bangkok, his cultural policy vision has also been far-reaching, resulting in the various and important initiation of cultural institutions that have played their part in the ensuing decades to keep his dreams alive. Among these are the Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art, Thailand’s first public art gallery, and the School of Fine Arts which later became the Silpakorn University.
The Bhirasri Institute of Modern Art (BIMA) came into being in 1974, after years of campaigning by art patrons and artists who were determined to see his vision realized after Feroci’s demise in 1962. BIMA was named in memory of Feroci, using his Thai name, Silpa Bhirasri. The Institute operated until 1990, during which time it hosted numerous ground-breaking exhibitions, as well as music, theatre and film programmes. It became known for its innovative and experimental approach and gave Bangkok a contemporary art meeting venue of its time. All this was unfolding behind the backdrop of Thailand’s social and political changes of the 70s and 80s, and which is reflected in the works of artists from that period. The BIMA, with its interdisciplinary approach to the arts, became a model that was followed in the setting up of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.
The exhibition, which aims to see how both institutions have performed when compared to Bhirasri’s vision, will be archival in its set-up, highlighting past exhibits which include theatre and music. It will also serve to examine the role of art institutions, patrons and artists' networks that made it possible to spearhead progress in the advancement of the arts in the country. And together the role played by foreign cultural institutions, banks and independent galleries who made important contributions towards it.