Urban Legend: Alex Face, Bangkok’s Famous Graffiti Artist
Hidden down the side streets and sois of urban Bangkok is a mysterious world of graffiti, created by an enigmatic character in the street art scene Alex Face. We’ve been intrigued by his work and he’s even done a few pieces in Bodega Bangkok.
Bangkok is a city of soaring skyscrapers, buzzing street life and hidden corners. A stroll down many roads in the city offers 21st century modernity right next to 19th century tradition, but there’s another element which can catch your eye as you get to know Thailand’s exciting capital.
Dotted here and there between the street food stalls and the racing tuk tuks are pieces of art. Not traditional paintings like you might find in a gallery, but huge, colorful, eye-catching murals and cartoon scenes. These are no shy and retiring watercolor sketches. They’re bold, modern and fun and are the creation of Bangkok’s resident graffiti virtuous ‘Alex Face’.
The Mystery of Mardi
Alex (real name Patcharapol) has been creating art in the city landscape for years, after a youth spent studying architecture. His most famous creation is the signature character ‘Mardi’, a huge cartoon bunny rabbit with a child’s face whose trials and tribulations are splashed across many a Bangkok wall. Mardi crouches in the shadows, strides across open spaces and peers round corners in a spectacular series of artwork that stretches across the city.
Much like Banksy in the West, much of Alex Face’s work is deeply political and Mardi is often depicted looking world-weary and mired in adversity. The emotional reaction you have when discovering a new mural can be surprising. Mardi faces many of the same challenges in the graffiti as we do in our day-to-day lives, and you’re left with a sense of empathy with a character who on first glance could just be seen as a bit of visual entertainment.
Take a Self-Guided Alex Face Tour of Bangkok
To see the best that Alex Face has to offer, start at the National Stadium BTS station. The Mardi mural here is bold and bright and carries an optimistic message about the importance of peace and love. Next head to Thammasat University to see a piece of work newly completed in 2018; this one features Mardi being carried away by a large bird displaying an ‘all-seeing’ third eye. Strange, but beautifully executed.
If you want to combine art with shopping then take a turn around the Chatuchak weekend market to see two large Mardi characters on painted boards near the clock tower. Perfect for a selfie before you indulge in some retail therapy! Finally, get online and search for nearby exhibitions. Alex Face is often featured at locations like the Bangkok City Gallery, but the dates are ever-changing so it’s best to do some research on the day you want to visit.
A Buzzing Local Graffiti Scene in Bangkok
While Alex Face is the best-known of the local Bangkok street artists, there are many others who are also worth a look. ‘Bon’, AKA Danaiphat Lersputtikrakan is another big name on the scene who has exhibited both in Thailand and abroad, and Bonus TMC is another emerging talent whose star is on the rise.
Did you know?
Mardi was actually named after Alex Face’s baby daughter, but the artist now regrets that decision. He says that while he initially wanted the rabbit to appear very childlike in appearance, these days he plays a much more political role than Mardi the little girl! Whatever the name though, this is one set of graffiti art that is lighting up the Bangkok street scene.