10 February 2011 | thailand
michael and jackie
The Frank Gehring of Thailand is Chalermchai Kositpipat. Chalermchai is both an artist and an architect. Near Chiang Mai, a remarkable temple is being constructed to his specifications. When completed in 2070 it will consist of 9 buildings. The temples known properly as Wat Rong Khun are designed to be best seen in moonlight. The artist is a devout Buddhist and many of his paintings have Buddhist themes. Inside the walls of the temple reflect some of the contemporary themes in his paintings of the threats to the planet from global warning and war. For example, one mural shows the twin towers burning. The rococo styles of the buildings are quite breathtaking. Amusing eccentricities abound - no parking cones with skulls on them. A magnificent building painted in gold turns out to be the toilets. A sculpture featuring a bottle of whisky is to tell you that the temple is a no alcohol area. People come from all over Thailand to view the temple and the gallery of his paintings.
Interestingly, nearby, a contemporary of Chalermchai regarded as the other leading Thai artist has constructed "the black house" depicting the dark side of humanity. Chiang Rai, a fairly mundane Northern city has developed a reputation as the birthplace for many Thai artists and musicians. perhaps a response to the ordinariness of the town in contrast to the surrounding mountain scenery.