Top: Pakorn Bna paints a wall Oct. 22 along the Khlong Saen Saep in Bangkok. Photo: TK Phenpak Omer
Artists who for most of their careers have remained elusive and worked under cover of darkness came out in broad daylight this past week where they drew interest from curious onlookers – including the police.
“The police stopped us once, but we told them what we wanted to show our respects and promised to clean up after. They were cool with it,” Pakorn Bna said of a mural he and a group of graffiti artists put up Saturday in tribute to His Majesty King Bhumibol, who died Oct. 13 at 88.
A number of Bangkok graffiti artists have banded together to paint murals around the city. Though technically vandals under the law, they chose walls left to ruin and or eyesores forgotten by the city
The most popular and perhaps biggest was carried out by 20 Bangkok muralists. Their street homage went down next to MRT Phetchaburi with Jecks, Zionburi and scene veteran Pakorn Bna, some of the capital city’s most prominent artists.
The murals are a city block in length and painted in simple white lettering on black background:
“Ka kor pen ka long prabat tuk chatr pai,” a slogan widely used on social media since the King’s death Oct. 13 which means, “May I serve underneath your feet in all future lives.”
While local street artists such as Alex Face and Mamafaka have landed in art galleries around the world, Thais should be proud of how far the kingdom’s scene has come along. Unlike North America and Europe, where there’s an abundance of information and ideas, artists in Bangkok did not have the tools and many learned their technique through trial and error.
“In the ‘90s, I was inspired by the artwork in skate magazines,” Pakorn said about how he honed his skills. “I didn’t really know how to paint back then. It wasn’t until after 2000 that we could learn spray techniques from the internet.”
The group is planning a few more murals throughout the city, Pakorn said.
“This is a group effort and we wanted to pay our respects to His Majesty, but we plan on drawing some of our own original pieces in honor of His Majesty later on in the year.”