State Of The Art: To Alex Face, Making Art A Part Of People’s Lives Is One Of The Art World’s Challenges

"If the folks who live around the art don't get it, then it's like we're just making art for art people," says painter Alex Face from Thailand
"If folks who live around the art don't get it, then it's like we're just making art for art people," says painter Alex Face from Thailand
Alex Face

For our Art issue, we invited artists from Singapore and the Asian region to ponder the questions surrounding creativity, inspiration and purpose in today’s world. Here, we speak to Alex Face from Thailand, represented by Bangkok Citycity Gallery.

What would you say are the best things about being an artist today?

These days, we’ve got a variety of tools and social media that really help spread our art far and wide, making it much simpler to connect with people. For street artists, these tools enable us to connect with artists in different cities, making it easier to share ideas, work together, and scout out new spots for our murals. Additionally, they assist in creating a community of street artists worldwide.

What are the biggest challenges facing the art world now?

I think it’s about how we can make art become a part of people’s lives in a way that they don’t see it as alien.We don’t want art to be this thing only outsiders get while the local folks are left scratching their heads. If the folks who live around the art don’t get it, then it’s like we’re just making art for art people.

As for me, when doing street art and spray painting walls in different neighbourhoods, I make it a point to chat with locals and shop owners. It’s a whole different vibe from talking to the gallery crowd. It’s pretty cool to talk to the people who see my work every day. They’re straight up with what they think and feel, and their takes on it can be really eye-opening. You get all sorts of responses—some dig my work and treat me awesome, offering snacks and drinks, while others aren’t fans and let me know it. But that’s part and parcel of creating art in public spaces.

How should one approach contemporary art?

I think everyone’s different backgrounds and experiences really shape how they see things. We can all look at the same thing but think and feel totally differently about it. Art serves as a neutral space where we can have chats and meaningful talks. Getting hands-on with art, really feeling it and diving into different styles start all these conversations. We get to listen, learn, and exchange ideas. It’s a way to really connect with art, no matter how much or little we already know about it.

Why do you create art?

When I’m in the process of creating, I find myself deeply focused and truly joyful. I also use art as a tool to express what I want to communicate. Art is my way of saying what I want to say. I mean, I’ve been into drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. It’s pretty much the thing I do best. Whenever I’ve got something to say about social topics or issues, or just need to get my feelings out, I pour it all into my paintings. Honestly, if I wasn’t doing art, I’d likely be all stressed out and unhappy.

How do you continually find inspiration?

The things that inspire my art really shift with the different phases and experiences of my life.

When I first got into spray painting, I was this provincial kid who landed in the big, noisy city, all lit up and bustling. I used to spray paint images of the side of my face, kind of like popping out from various corners of the walls in Bangkok, because at that time I just wanted to express myself.

But after having my daughter, she became the inspiration that led to the creation of child characters in my paintings, both on canvas and on walls. Since her birth, I’ve started questioning the future, including social issues, politics, and the environment, in the world where my daughter will grow up.

How do you stay true to who you are as an artist?

I try to explore and also strive to be aware of what I’m doing. The art scene is constantly evolving, with new trends and styles emerging. What I do is explore these changes to understand where I stand in the current era of art. At the same time, as a street artist and painter, I am committed to maintaining my personal approach in my work.

What’s something you would like to explore next?

I often find myself painting on walls in different spots, making art in the open rather than in a studio. This part of being a street artist reminds me a lot of the Impressionists, who also used to paint outdoors. During my art school days, I had a strong interest in Impressionism, but I feel I didn’t fully delve into it. So, I am considering revisiting this style, engaging in landscape painting.

I want to really capture the subtle plays of light and the environment. I’ve got this feeling that if I dive deep into this, balancing both studio and outdoor work, I might just come up with something totally new and exciting.