MOCA's Kanachai Bencharongkul Pays Tribute to King Bhumibol With 'King of Kings' Exhibition
His majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej remains a great source of inspiration in Thailand and although he is gone, the profound love and appreciation felt for him by the Thai people endures. As an expression of gratitude to the benevolent monarch, and as a tribute to an exemplary monarch, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has launched a photography exhibition entitled King of Kings, which is open to the public until October 29.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10am-5pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-6pm. Kanachai Bencharongkul, the associate creative director of MOCA Bangkok who initiated the exhibition, tells us more.
What can we expect from the exhibition?
It is divided into different sections aimed at illustrating memorable moments throughout His Majesty’s life. The first section is made up of black and white photos from MOCA’s collection. Overall, we must have more than 300 images but we had to cut them down to about 160 for this exhibition. We also asked 16 photographers, including national artists, to share some of their work, exhibited in the second part. The final section showcases photos that are inspired by our late king. There’s also a big wall, which I call the royal family wall. We invited relatives and friends to paint it yellow before we put up some of the royal family portraits.
We wanted to organise the exhibition last year but it took us longer than expected to collect all the images and prepare everything. As we wanted this to be perfect, we had to push the date back. I think even now everyone still misses the late king. We are entering into a new era and the King of Kings exhibition will probably be one of the last to commemorate him at this juncture. With this exhibition, those who miss him can come and enjoy the collection. It is our way of trying to keep his memory alive.
What were some of the challenges?
Finalising the selection of pictures was a challenge. We love them all and would have liked to include every photo we have, but the walls can only accommodate so many images. In addition, each picture had to be approved by the palace. It took a while to correspond back and forth with them and quite a few of the pictures, which I personally really liked, were cut from the list.
Why did you choose photography as a way to commemorate His Majesty?
Being a photographer myself, I really appreciate the art of picture taking and how it captures moments in time that would otherwise be forgotten. In this case, there are so many photos of His Majesty that I have never seen before. It’s very inspiring to see the different facets of His Majesty, from being a monarch to being such a multi-talented individual. I really like the pictures of Their Majesties the King and Queen on their travels abroad. And of course, His Majesty was a very keen and accomplished photographer in his own right so I think this exhibition is a very fitting way for us to honour his cherished memory.