"The world is not a rectilinear world, it is a curvilinear world. The heavenly bodies go in a curve because that is the
natural way..."

-- George Bernard Shaw

"I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein."

-- Oscar Niemeyer

Monday, 6 April 2015

28. Bangkok: Hotel or Art Gallery?

Mural by Lisa Mam and Peap Tarr
(photo via Lisa Mam)

Generally speaking, I try to keep this blog distinct from the one in which Heather and I showcase street art from around the world, STREETsmArt (www.streetsmart319.blogspot.com). After all, architecture is architecture and street art is street art. The two are completely different. Or are they?

As I highlighted in an earlier post on this blog (23. The Newest Architecture Feature?), architecture and street art are increasingly converging. Nowhere is this more visible than at Cacha in Bangkok, which we had the pleasure of visiting on a recent swing through Southeast Asia.

A first glance at Cacha suggests you're looking at either some kind of arts building or maybe a boutique hotel. But there aren't any obvious clues as to which. You certainly wouldn't guess that it was once a Chinese shophouse.

                                                                                                                 (Photo via Cacha)
Entering Cacha, the mystery only deepens. Your eyes and brain struggle to take in all of the colourful patterns and images that sweep across this open-concept level.

The task of designing the ground floor was given to two of Cambodia's hottest street artists, Lisa Mam and Peap Tarr. Lisa was Cambodia's first female Khmer street artist, and may well be the world's only dentist/street artist. Here's a detail from one of her pieces in Cacha's lobby/restaurant area:

Peap has his roots in the graffiti culture, but has created his own unique style by synthesizing his two heritages - New Zealand and Cambodian. He says his art "exists in a world where lightness and darkness battle, yet co-exist..." Here's one of his contributions to  Cacha's lobby:

As this mural suggests, elephants are the dominant motif at Cacha:

That's not such a big surprise, given that "Cacha" is a poetic Thai word for "elephant".

Still wondering what Cacha is? The answer lies above the first floor floor. There, you'll find comfortable and colourful overnight rooms for paying guests. The rooms feature bold, modern and somewhat edgy murals created by a highly acclaimed five-artist collective called Death of Black (DOB).

If you find yourself headed to Bangkok, you might consider booking a few nights at - to use its full name - the Cacha Art Hotel. You could end up sharing a room with a masterwork by the likes of:

New York graffiti star CHIP7:

Thai illustrator and street artist P7:

Or Thai illustrator and graphic designer, Rukkit:

(last three photos via Cacha)

While you're at it, get used to seeing street art in many more places than just construction hoarding, abandoned buildings, dark alleys and modern art galleries. It is, after all, the fastest-growing art movement in the history of the world! 

And if you'd like to learn more about street art, please check out our other blog: www.streetsmart319.blogspot.com