Monday, 30 August 2010

Oh Coco

Lynn and I went to perfume school for a few hours to learn how to make Chanel No. 5 at the Institute of Perfumerie in Grasse, where all the amazing perfumes are made. It is the source.

Chanel No.5 is unique, Coco Chanel wanted to make a real perfume for women, a modern perfume, not just a simmple floral bouquet but something which would capture the spirit of modernity, something to reflect her love of the modern woman, of straight lines, of form, of freedom of Corbusier, Mondrian and her contemporaries. The nose,Ernest Beaux was hired and he stayed for a long time and in 1921 No. 5 was created. The story of No 5 is that he might have made a mistake and put too much fo the synthetic scent Aldehyde which at the time as controversial, but this is unlikely and rather it was intentional, to give it an edge, to be modern.

It's composition is complex, perfume, like a movie or a good essay is in 3 parts, there are three acts if you like. The first is that first impression the top note which in this case is sparkling. The body which is abudant with jasmine and rose de mai, a precious expensive rose. Coco said, if it is expensive, I want more of it, I want the most exquisite perfume ever. . .then the last base note, what is left on your clothes and silk scarf after days, that deep musky scent that often reminds you of certain memories - the base here is sandalwood.

We made our own scents based on No. 5, I knew that I like sandalwood, rose and jasmine . . .a las after an hour our own Eau de Parfums were made . . .Chomchom Eau de Parfum, it is what I use now, instead of NO. 5 ;) Making a perfume is not an easy task as a little drop changes it all. An art, a science, call it whatever but probably a complete and utter neccisty after all. The basenote is supposed to last, almost forever, that smell that is left lingering on your clothes that brings back memories even when those memories are buried somewhere too deep to fish out and they come back when triggered by scent, even if you try to refuse - souvenirs of past loves. Thanks Madame.

Monday, 23 August 2010

3-D Dior

Looking through my pictures of Paris I stumbled upon the pics of the Dior Couture show produced by Bureau Betak - a tight show, the girls became flowers, stunning. Even though the show was housed in what that day felt like a glass box (very hot), the flowers are a nice touch, especially when they are moving and in bloom.

It was more the fact that it was the first show to be filmed in 3D though that is very cool. Going back stage there was a screen and a bag of glasses . . .it was like you could touch them, the girls were like flowers.

The genius of Alex de Betak and John Galliano and the vision of the House of Dior. . . I am trying to imagine Alex's showreel in 3-D - it woudl be surreal.
Beautiful dresses captured by modern technology and brought to life one more time, this will undoubtedly change the way that fashion is shown. . .forever.

Please Donate Your Ideas for a Silpathorn Artist

. . . said Navin Rawanchaikul on the occasion being awarded the Silpathorn award this year under the visual arts category. The Silpathorn Award is created by the Ministry of Culture and is granted to artists of various disceiplines from visual arts to film to architecture. P'Juke Aditya Assarat is the laureate under the film category.

I arrived at the ceremony extremely late, it was over, having got stuck in traffic for 2 hours on our Champs Elysee (Rachdamoneon avenue), however, it was definitely worth going to see P'Navin's work, it is a curious and rather touching though extremely simple piece. . .no tuk tuks nor baloons this time around, not even a pa kao ma.

As a condition of receiving an award, it is required that a Silpathorn laureate creates a piece of work - P'Navins creates a work which in turn creates more work as it asks questions, specifically about art . . .

He then asks us, as the viewer to donate our ideas and ask him questions, to be written on postcards which will be mailed to him. All the cards were taped on the wall, I had a lot of fun with this. There is something satisfying about being able to engage with a piece of "art", to leave one's mark.

The conversation starts with a letter from P'Navin to his Ajarn or Master, the late Montien Boonma in honour of his late master. A high priest of Thai contemporary art, his paintings abstract in nature and exploring a realm which prior to his works were mainly figurative, a touch of arte povera Thai-style. A master, truly. The letter to his Ajarn is sentimental, explaining the state ofart as it is today to a man who did in his way and through his works inspired it. . . explaining why there is no tuk-tuk, thanking his master for his influence and guidance. A humble, letter of gratitude and respect which goes back to a certain tradition where the artist is first an apprentice as he learns, it goes back to the roots and suggests that always there is a source, and always there is a story. It is a deeply touching one-way conversation which he has with his master, an expression of his thoughts and gratitude, it is to honour his Ajarn.
Whilst preoccupied with drawing rainbows and asking P'Navin questions in my postcards and stamping them with more questions, I was so preoccupied with the activity that the thought process did not occur to me . . .art can also be about art, about questioning the very purpose of this thing called art, espeically when it has been institutionalised and the dialogue is created by a public body. It is not just about beauty anymore but thought, and really what is it all for? As there is no good painting about nothing . . .this simple installation is not about nothing even if there is no sensational va-va-voom motorcycles or pastiches. The minimal presentation speaks much clearer, as does his letter than any elaborate show which lists and dictates not giving any room whatsoever for the viewer to think or digest, or breath.

I was very happy to make my donation and then eventually go for dirnks and dinner, the customary Kao Tom with P'Navin and friends. I love that in Thailand it is not about going Pastis or the Rivington but our equivalent for after vernissage/show dinners for friends and supporters is the late night kao tom place, where the make-shift table goes on and on.

Then to more drinks at a little Cafe which is also a gallery called Tood Yung (mosquito butt) owned by French lady called Mimi. Lovely little space. I particularly enjoyed having a convo with the new head of the India Cultural Centre, Renuka and P'Jeab Gridthiya . . .the grand matron of Thai contemporary art, a curator and head of the Jim Thompson Foundation, and rightly so she is inspiring and spot-on, she is proof that intellectual discourse is important, as is context and the source. Thank goodness P'Jeab and P'Albert exist. I felt very inspried.

Thanks again P'Navin for a great show and congrats . . . and even if you don't have a chance to answer my questions or read my postcards, I'm glad I had a chance to think about it a little and make a little donation.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Kiss My Reers

Reer is the offspring of Rabbit and Deer . . . enter the world of Pan Pan Narkprasert's Reer . . . the endearing story of good friends, a gay rabbit called Bunny and a lesbian deer called Cathy-O who manages through some inventive method to impregnate herself with Bunny (no contact). Upon entering H Gallery, you see a beautifully illustrated little story book, it tells the story, in the most endearing, seemingly innocent way of the two friends and their reer. Then you look closer and see all the tiny little absurdities and perverse sexual citations . . .then you realise that these cute little beasts are metaphors for something more than Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit and AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh although they were hardly normal animals either.

The walls of the gallery were adorned with Bunny, Cathy-O, and Reer and how he was made, drawings of anuses, a sculpture of Bunny and Cathy-O - sex and homosexuality glorified and celebrated. Not vulgar, perhaps shocking but at the same time soft and sincere. There is a Jakkai Sributr homage in the form of a fabric collage and a frame with drawings of Reer stretched about with thread where you see him being "singled" out Thai mob style.

Then one enters the next room and this is when the world in which Reer exists comes to life, there are Reers everywhere.

I found the photographs particularly strong for its composition and that menacing feeling that comes with shadow and silhouettes.

Pan Pan is a multi-disclinpary artist and the show includes a performance captured in film of a "monk" and sex toys . . .then there is Reer, all by himself, stretched out.

Reer is fluffy and soft with sparkling eyes (he likes oversized sex toys too), yet an outsider to the world of rabbit and deer, he is the product of sexual liberation and sheer perserverance and in the real world that we live, of imagination and creativity on Pan Pan's behalf.

Only 22, recently graduated from UCLA and back in Thailand, fresh young blood and with effervescent energy and this is his very first solo show. I went to see the works at his house a few months back and fell in love with the detail, the story, and just the mock cuteness of it all. The technique and skill set is there, his drawings are beautiful, no surprise when his mentors/teachers are Barbara Kruger and Catherine Opie (Cathy-O is inspired by the latter) and for this young-one, the theme can only progress, his world can only grow and become more complex. At the moment, it is one of liberation, of endless possibilities of hope despite being singled out and different, the future is bright . . .

H has a knack for finding that bright young thing, the opening was packed and honestly, I do not remember such a buzzing night at H's since a while ago. Congrats Pan Pan and my kisses to Reer.

Kiss My Reers is on at H Gallery Sathorn Soi 12 until August 29th.
Photos courtesy of Jan Sriyuksri

A Spa Called Evian

We wholly endorse the whole retox detox then retox regime, obviously Grey Goose does too because after a couple days of indulgence they shipped us to Geneva by train to transfer to Evian-les-Bains (yes, the Evian of the water).

we had a suite, it was cool . . .we watched the sun set over Lake Geneva and then we watched the World Cup.

The next day I had a little swim and then off we went to Montreux to La Clinique La Prairie, reputed to be one of the best spas in the world and home of La Prairie. One could say, Rehab but a very nice version of it. It was glorious, I felt like a new born baby . . though I must admit that having a firm massage while being rubbed down with grains, having crystals ground into my face after having impurities taken away, then being put in a tomb which enveloped me in steam then sprayed me with water were completely new experiences . . .

A little La Prairie toy/demo

Lunch of spa food was a nice little break from big chefs' creations, I loved my carrot juice soup (volupte). The afternoon session was reserved for our bodies . . . a massage to be specific. I had an Ayurvedic one . . .it was divine. My masseuse lived in India for a long time, fixed my problems and attempted to diagnose my woes, his conclusion being that I needed to let things go . . . to open up. It was like a massage version of open heart yoga . . . it was amazing. Life-changing almost and definitely needed as we had barely time to recover from jetlag. It felt strange to get back into my little green t-ra dress after spending the whole day in a robe!

The town of Montreux is very cute, home to the MontreuxJazz Festival. In fact the jazz festival was going on but our schedule did allow for us to stay which was a bit of bummer as I know one of Lynn's favourite acts were due to play. Next time.

The drive back to Evian, was incredible . . . the sky was totally open and the crevasses between the mountains rather unique with Lake Geneva on the other side, we were in a Switzerland en route back to Evian in France, a pocket of Frenchness in a Swiss empire.

We then found the only Thai restaurant in Evian then went to collect Evian water, FOR FREE . . .it is not a scam, Evian is a spa town and like all spa towns, it is La Source and its water is avaialbe for all from its public fountains. Evian is such a big deal there is even an Evian Museum and just about every step of the way there is that familiar little pastel pink/blue logo. . .

La Source of Evian is a beautiful fountain up a hill where the mineral water flows to. It reminded me of where Lynn and I went to school in Malvern where there is also Malvern water. The notion of free Evian water is awesome, a mega treat. The past glory of Evian came to life as we strolled around and filled our vessels. Wish we had time to visit the Water Exhibition at the Palais de Lumiere . . . this is the old palace which belonged to the Lumiere brothers, two of the earliest filmmakers in history. . .who's name appropriately means light. Water and light - how fitting.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Silver Hawk over Blue

Lynn and I absolutely ADORED our 45 minute ride from St Tropez to Cannes in a heli, the view was sublime and I really loved how the nautical stripes of my Issue playsuit really seemed to compliment the little sail boats you see below - can totally understand the obsession for white and blue in the Mediterranean after our little ride.

love love love. Defo another one of my fave moments from the Grey Goose Discerning France trip . . . I always get carsick in a car to and from St Tropez anyway, this solves all problems . . . landed in Cannes ready for our little boat trip.

Helipad was just next door to our hotel, the Majestic, how SWEET would it have been if this was during the Cannes Film Festival in May, we might have been able to rejoice in the atmo after P'Joei won his Palme d'Or if that were case.

Nonetheless, oh helicopter and riviera how we heart thee - especially when you are together.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Green. . .

Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue said Barnett Newman in 1966. In 2010, Rirkrit Tiravanija comes along and asks us, right, smack in the middle of Bkk at 100 Tonson Gallery which a couple of months ago witnessed just a few metres down, riots and protests, Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Green?
We know with Barnett Newman that he was referring to the primary colours and challenges one to engage, to enter into his painting, a return to pure colour, flat plane. To Newman art is an adventure to an unknown world, it is his function as an artist to make the spectator see the world his way, and favours simple expression of complex thought and lastly there is no such thing as a good painting about nothing . . .(1943)

Who's Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? - Barnett Newman 1966

In P'Rirkrit's piece there is no blue, but, green which is certainly not a primary colour and comes from mixing blue and yellow . . .where did blue go? . .does the reference to Newman's revolutionary piece (he is considered the godfather of minimalism and to him I pay my dues and respect, from the Broken Obelisk to that steamy simple orange White and Hot) suggest it's existence albeit in the background? Questions and pondering aside once at the vernissage, one can absolutely not disregard the fact that Rirkrit's first solo show in Thailand not at his own space Verr but at 100 Tonson was like a hero's welcoming home party. . .or that is exactly what the jubilant and curious atmosphere at the vernissage would suggest.

Tonson Gallery was turned into a mural and a street canteen all at once, chaotic almost. I had seen the Green Curry piece at Zwirner gallery in NY a few years back, albeit I was not around at the opening but this was something extremely different, this is Bkk, Thailand, not Chelsea, NY.

I entered the space to a mob of people, not mob like in April but a mob of art fans, students, friends and supporters of P'Rirkrit's and contemporary art in Thailand. Even if what was in the gallery might have confounded them, they stayed and soaked it in.

So there I was standing in a mob of people with a backdrop of illustrated revolution, demonstration and state-endorsed brutality and what we as a nation have gone through in recent years. . .queuing for a bowl of red, yellow or green curry on rice. A soup-line, exactly like that on Rajdamri when the Red shirts were around, but this time it is P'Rirkrit's recipe and it is his work and his peoples serving up the food, in a gallery where the revolution illustrated, pain and emotions captured in pencil on a white-washed walls.
The context is different and too much has happened for us to ignore its ramifaications on society and norms which we accept and too often do not question, perhaps what P'Rirkrit has tried to say for a long time now speaks more to us than it ever did before, we might just be more receptive now than ever. It felt completely comfortable even if the backdrop to the installation shows us police brutality and the fact that Thailand is not a "peaceful" country where everyone gets along and speaks the same language as propoganda would make us believe, we are different. Clearly we do not speak the same language and have different needs. This is evident as much in the natural world as it is a nation state, if it were all to be the same, then all roses would be red and that would be very sad for yellow, white and pink roses.

The thing with colour is that they are all distinct yet they can mix together and form something new.

Red means stop, Yellow means get ready, Green means go . . .those are traffic lights . . .it is the law, these norms tell us what to do. What happens then when Red and Yellow decide to fight . . .where's Green? In England the Green party are kind of the liberal hippies always side lined. In this case, where is the Green in the space except for the colour of the curry, we haven't heard of green shirts after all (and where is orange?).

I tried all three colours and thus assured myself that I was not scared of neither red, yellow nor green, though yellow was particularly spicy but clear . . .green was probably the tastiest and red looked good but was a bit bland. Not sure if we were supposed to comment on taste, I just know though that an artist-cooked meal is as good as any.
I have collected bits of P'Rirkrit souvenirs here and there for years, be it jello box from Miami Basel, to a freedom of expression pamplet at the Guggenheim and most recently the Commoner's Manifesto printed in red at the BACC so it was neat to meet the artist in person. He is very nice and extremely funny with sparkling eyes. He told me that the mural will grow, there will be more, at the moment there are cops, monuments, mobs and torutre and the Democracy Monumet. ..I wonder what will be on the wall on the 28th when he has his workshop. I would also love an explanation - all this must represent complex thought after all.

If art is a language then so is food, if art does not speak to you then well, food speaks to our tummies when we are hungry, it engages. . . P'Rirkrit opens up the door and starts the conversation . . . and as we go into the world he creates of mobs, colours, curries, aromas, revolution and freedom, at least for me anyway, it made me question, really what does it all mean and why are we afraid? Differences exist anyway, they always have, to not accept = use of force to suppress some sort of freedom, inequalities, institutional corruption and brutality. It is a bit ironic really with the state of the world and its woes and we queue for curry.

The drawings on the wall engages us as it captures something which is very much, to a Thai person in a our very recent memory, it triggers emotion, whereas before it was our parents and Oct 14th but this time it is May 10th - it forces us to look, watch think and not be afraid, to finally question and engage rather than think it is not our business.

My interpretation from a few bowls of curry, red, yellow and green - rather intriguing, confusing and fun, I think next I would like to try P'Rirkrit's turkish coffee from his cook book . . What is so ordinary through the eyes and the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija becomes utterly extraordinary.