The last few nights I have been up late, pacing the rooftop and letting ideas wash one after another as I decide how to start preparing for my exhibition in eight weeks’ time. I feel an uneasy pressure and an earnest excitement to start making some progress. This developmental stage of an art project feels very familiar: doubt, depression, fury, highs of arrogant confidence - all while avoiding the curator, so I don’t have to explain my delicate, embryonic plans.
The past two weeks I have filled notebooks with scrawled ideas, little doodles, proposals and reflections. This period of time has been important to allow my residency intentions to evolve from a hypothetical proposal into a solid strategy. For example, there are characteristics of Thai art history that make my heart hum and fizz, while there are aspects of Buddhist spirituality that I am struggling to find a meaningful connection with.
Each day I am continuing to develop my drawings, which will be exhibited at the HOF Gallery and then in woodblock print form back in New Zealand. The gallery space here seems to have a lot of potential, although I have only seen it used as a music video set and a sleeping ground for stray, local cats. Fortunately, Annabelle is having her photography exhibition in a few weeks time, so I will have the opportunity glean ideas on how the gallery space operates best. Annabelle, be aware, I will be quietly taking notes, and judging everything.
Earlier in the week I visited the National Museum again. It is my favourite gallery/temple/attraction in Bangkok. The staff are not precious about allowing visitors to take photographs or make drawings, and there are plenty of buildings filled with artefacts to amble through. Sections of the museum are currently under construction so it is common to see a wagon or a barge seemingly abandoned outside, perhaps half-heartedly covered in a plastic sheet.
One piece I would like to share with you is a bas-relief rubbing, taken from Phra Bodhisattva Cave, Kaeng Khoi District, Saraburi Porvince. I have always seen rubbings as the lowliest, play-centre version of printmaking, a last resort for skill-less art students, and a sort of talentless trope seen in exhibitions like the Parkin Drawing Prize. In this case, the rubbing embodies a ghostly soul as it echoes a deteriorating piece of Thai history (the Phra Bodhisattva Cave). With its painterly, mottled paper, this mammoth print seems to cling to the wall over the stairwell like a giant, delicate and regal moth. And yes, unfortunately, this exposed, frail print has been relegated the stairwell.
More photos are up on www.instagram.com/paul_mclachlan, including images from our recent visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art; an insane bombardment of intense paintings I have yet to fully process.