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Alex Face Thailand's Renowned Graffiti Artist

, by Bobby Banks, 7 min reading time

Thailand Alex Face Art

Origin of Alex Face

Born as Patcharapol Tangruen in 1980, Alex Face is an internationally acclaimed Thai street artist known for his thought-provoking and distinct murals. Growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, he discovered a strong affinity for drawing at an early age. His father, a craftsman and woodcarver, encouraged his son's artistic talent by providing him with sketchbooks and pencils. Inspired by comic books, cartoons, and local urban art, he began exploring various drawing techniques and styles, eventually finding his way to graffiti.

Education and Early Career

After completing high school, Alex Face pursued a degree in Fine Arts from King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang in Bangkok. During his time at university, he was introduced to the world of street art and graffiti. Intrigued by this expressive form, he practiced relentlessly to hone his skills, collaborating with fellow artists to create murals in and around the city. Upon graduation, he worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, producing designs for both local and international brands. However, his passion for graffiti and street art continued to grow, leading him to participate in various exhibitions and events, both in Thailand and abroad.

The Birth of Mardi

Alex Face's most iconic character, Mardi, was inspired by his daughter and a reaction to the societal issues and environmental concerns plaguing Thailand. Mardi, a child-like figure with a distinctive rabbit-like appearance, has become the embodiment of innocence and vulnerability amidst the chaotic world. The character's omnipresence in his work serves as a reminder of the fragility of future generations and the responsibility to create a better world for them. Alex Face first painted Mardi in 2009, and it quickly became a recurring theme in his work, adorning walls and streets throughout Bangkok and other cities. Over the years, Mardi has evolved, often appearing with different facial expressions, costumes, and accompanying elements, representing various emotions and addressing different issues.

Addressing Societal and Environmental Concerns

One of Alex Face's driving forces is his dedication to addressing critical issues in Thailand and around the world. He frequently employs symbolism, humor, and satire to comment on these issues, eliciting conversations and raising awareness among viewers. Among the topics he tackles are political instability, social inequality, and environmental degradation. For instance, a mural in Chiang Mai, Thailand, depicts Mardi wearing a gas mask, highlighting the city's air pollution crisis. In another piece, Mardi is portrayed as a humble rice farmer, a nod to the plight of Thailand's agricultural communities. By bringing attention to these issues, Alex Face encourages reflection, discussion, and, ultimately, action.

International Recognition and Collaborations

As Alex Face's work began to garner attention, opportunities for collaboration and participation in international events arose. Over the years, he has painted in countries like Italy, Japan, England, the United States, and more. Notable collaborations include painting alongside renowned street artists like ROA and MUEBON. In 2014, Alex Face participated in the "Tour 13" project in Paris, France, where he and over 100 other street artists were invited to create murals on a ten-story building before its demolition. His participation in this groundbreaking project further solidified his status as a leading figure in the international street art scene.

Exhibitions and Commercial Success

While Alex Face's initial success came from his street art, he has also found commercial success through gallery exhibitions and collaborations with brands. In 2013, he held his first solo exhibition, "Spray It, Don't Say It," at the Sombat Permpoon Gallery in Bangkok. The exhibition showcased paintings, sculptures, and installations featuring Mardi and other original characters, marking a significant milestone in his artistic career. Since then, Alex Face has exhibited his work in galleries and art fairs worldwide, including Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States, and Europe. His artwork is in high demand among collectors, and his unique style continues to capture the attention of both seasoned art enthusiasts and new fans alike. In addition to his success in the art world, Alex Face has collaborated with various brands, including Adidas, Converse, and MCM. These collaborations have allowed him to further expand his audience while maintaining his artistic vision and staying true to his roots as a street artist.

Influence on the Thai Street Art Scene

Alex Face's impact on the Thai street art scene cannot be overstated. Through his distinctive style and dedication to addressing societal and environmental issues, he has played a significant role in elevating Thai street art's global presence. His work has paved the way for younger generations of Thai street artists, who have been inspired by his success and his unwavering commitment to his craft. His influence extends beyond the art world, as well. Alex Face's murals have contributed to urban revitalization in various neighborhoods throughout Bangkok, transforming once-drab walls into vibrant and thought-provoking works of art. As a result, these neighborhoods have attracted increased tourism and have become cultural hubs in their own right.

Alex Face's Legacy and Future Endeavors

As Alex Face continues to create compelling and thought-provoking art, his legacy as a leading figure in Thai street art is firmly established. With his signature style and iconic character, Mardi, his work remains relevant and resonant in the ever-evolving urban landscape. Looking to the future, Alex Face is committed to using his platform to engage in activism and raise awareness about critical issues. He continues to push boundaries, collaborating with fellow artists, participating in international events, and exploring new avenues for his art. As he expands his reach, he remains a powerful force in the art world and an inspiring example for future generations of Thai street artists.

Public Art Projects and Social Initiatives

Alex Face's dedication to creating public art that engages communities and sparks conversations has led him to participate in numerous public art projects and social initiatives. By working with local governments, organizations, and communities, he uses his art to create positive change and inspire hope. One notable project involved transforming a 900-meter-long wall surrounding a military base in Bangkok into an extensive mural. Alex Face collaborated with other Thai street artists, and together they created an awe-inspiring display of public art that became a tourist attraction and a source of pride for the community. Furthermore, Alex Face has used his art for philanthropic purposes. In 2016, he created a limited edition series of Mardi sculptures, with the proceeds benefiting the charity "Artists for Orphans," an organization dedicated to providing support for orphaned children in Thailand.

Exploration of Different Mediums

While Alex Face is primarily known for his large-scale murals, his creative process extends to various mediums. He continually experiments with painting, illustration, and sculpture to expand his artistic repertoire and challenge his creative limits. In recent years, he has started working with metal, creating intricate, three-dimensional sculptures of his iconic characters. These sculptures have been featured in his gallery exhibitions and are becoming increasingly sought-after by collectors. Additionally, Alex Face has explored printmaking and limited-edition screen prints. These works allow him to merge his love for street art with traditional fine art techniques, providing fans and collectors with a different perspective on his creations.

The Significance of Alex Face in the Global Art Scene

As a Thai street artist who has achieved international recognition, Alex Face's impact on the global art scene is undeniable. His art transcends cultural and language barriers, resonating with audiences from diverse backgrounds. Through his thought-provoking themes and captivating characters, Alex Face has positioned himself as an influential figure in contemporary art. His success not only highlights the power of street art as a medium for social and environmental commentary but also showcases the talent and creativity emerging from Thailand. As Alex Face continues to break new ground and challenge conventions, he remains a beacon of inspiration for artists and art lovers worldwide.

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