The Arts

Beauty In The Little Things


Photographer Phichai Kaewvichit sees the beauty in drab city life while he plies the streets on his motorcycle taxi.

Photographer Phichai Kaewvichit images lean towards minimalism, though when he started out capturing city scenes, he had never even heard the term. “It just happened to be a reflection of my own life,” laughed the motorcycle taxi driver, who has had to work tirelessly to care for his family, forgoing any frills or luxuries in life such as travelling.

He began by snapping tables and chairs, but his artistic eye soon gravitated towards the understated nuances of the city’s beauty. “Art is in lines, in shapes, in light and shade,” he remarked. He began observing buildings along his route, capturing images first with his mobile phone, eventually getting a loan against his license plate to buy a compact camera. “The pictures essentially represent my life, my being.”

 

He began posting his pictures on his Instagram account where they attracted attention and led to his first exhibition. Here he shares with us a selection of six of his favourite images.

This black and white image is the first picture he ever posted on Instagram. It was taken at Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn). Despite the intricate details of the temple façade, Phichai concentrates on the geometric lines, and the juxtaposition between the horizontal, the vertical, as well as the diagonal.

This image was taken outside a shop in Bangrak district. “This picture tells so many stories at the same time, with so many details. I saw the image of the Chinese opera performer on the wall, so I wanted to capture it, aligning it with the chandelier. Without realizing at first, the bottom half of the picture reflected the bustling scene outside – the road signs, the pedestrians, the motorcyclist, the cars. There’s movement, activity, each one has a story to tell. I think that in every second of the day, there is so much happening in the world. That’s an exciting thought!”

This stark image of the greys and black of a building façade is reminiscent of Rothko grey and black paintings. “I took this in Saphan Lek area, on a route I’ve been using regularly for over 10 years. However, I had never noticed this building before. Perhaps it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time, but one day I looked up and saw it. It just goes to show that you should never overlook anything. You don’t have to look far for happiness; it’s right in front of you if you only open your eyes and see it.”

This image of an electricity pole was taken in Pattaya. “If you look carefully, I think this electricity pole has a lot of artistic elements to it, with the shadow and the colour of the building. Sometimes an electricity pole is not just an electricity pole, it can be much more, just like all of us. We don’t have to limited by one role; we are all capable of being so much more that we think.”

The contrasting bright red and white building and the blue sky was taken at Nana intersection, an area not particularly known for its beauty. “Bangkok might seem like a drab and dreary city, depressing with its dust and traffic jams, but I think there are angles, perspectives and moments where beauty exists to liven things up. You just have to look out for them.”

This black and white image could almost be a negative of a photo of a full moon reflected on the surface of the sea. In fact, it is a drain pipe in Khlong Lod. “I was passing Khlong Lod one day, and I saw water coming out of a drain pipe which was reflected in the water. It was so artistic! This was a drain, releasing smelly wastewater, yet there was an element of beauty in its simplicity.”

This black and white image could almost be a negative of a photo of a full moon reflected on the surface of the sea. In fact, it is a drain pipe in Khlong Lod.

“I was passing Khlong Lod one day, and I saw water coming out of a drain pipe which was reflected in the water. It was so artistic! This was a drain, releasing smelly waste water, yet there was an element of beauty in its simplicity.”


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