Graffiti artist follows his rebellious roots

A passerby rides on frescoes by Mu Bon. (Photo by Nathwat Wichenbut)

A washed-out wall overlooks a small area not far from a luxury condominium in the heart of Bangkok’s Sathon, where temporary houses were built for rent. A 40-year-old man gets out of his car with pink luggage. He wears a black cap and ties a small cloth around his head. She is wearing a long-sleeved checked shirt, shorts and black sneakers and her socks are printed with a cannabis pattern. Mu Bon, which literally translates as “restless hand”, opens his arsenal and begins to paint a rough sketch of a black bird flying over the wall.

“I draw the creature to represent the lower class. People always associate wings with freedom, but chickens, ducks and penguins can’t fly. It’s like me and me [rich] childhood friend. I couldn’t fly like him. Equality does not exist. Not every winged creature can fly unless it has equipment. I often use this character to tell stories. People are following it. You know, my pill is coated with sugar, but I don’t know what’s inside,” she said. Life,

The iconic bird on a can of spray paint expels a stream of gas in the back, a new addition to his decades-old portfolio of street art from Japan to Australia. Bonn painted a giant Black Panther on the ceiling in Melbourne after many of the frescoes at the house were removed. Some passers-by and food vendors stopped while building the new installation. Finally, he gave them token stickers, making connections via graffiti, which can be anything from a modern art form to vandalism, depending on your point of view.

Bon’s upcoming two-month exhibition on cannabis at Bangkok’s Siam Square Soi 2 from Thursday, the first day the plant was taken off the drug list, is further proof of his street art activism. He is turning a building into a cannabis museum, representing the flag of the underground movement.

“My friend was suffering from cancer and had no choice but to use cannabis because a doctor withdrew the treatment. I couldn’t do anything because it was illegal,” he said. Since then, he has insisted on liberalizing the plant.

“I’ve found that cannabis has been used throughout history. For example, it is depicted in murals Wat Phra Kew, I will educate the society through this exhibition, which was stopped five years ago. The people of this country are poor. Can’t you give us something enjoyable? The government should educate the users instead of criminalizing them.”

Opposing the system, a broad term for all kinds of institutions that dictate our way of life, is personal to the street artist, who grew up in a slum on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.

“Those days, the tide went down and my house went under and the kids drowned. People got stuck in the firing line. My acquaintances got killed or ran away. I got used to it, but kept my distance because I read cartoons and likes to draw. , Including Doraemon, Dragon BallAnd fist of the North Star,” They said.

Mu Bon spray-painted his iconic flightless black bird. (Photo by Nathwat Wichenbut)

However, Bon eventually learned the harsh truth. There was a similar sized property near the slum where a luxury house was located. A child from a wealthy family once took him to their library, but when he got home, his mother hit him because the parents of his one-day friend were afraid that he would steal their belongings.

“I didn’t take it seriously, but it turned out to be an emotional wound. It’s inequality. We breathe the same air, but I didn’t get the opportunity to reach enlightenment,” he said.

The turning point came when his family moved out of the slum. She started fighting back against the people who bullied her in first 4 (Grade 4).

“You can’t sit on the fence. You can either be a victim or a bully. When I switched sides, I felt very powerful. This is the ugliness of Thai society guided by a reverence for authoritarianism. I don’t want to hurt.” wanted anyone, but it was a self-defense mechanism,” he said, describing this period of life as chaotic as he got into a lot of controversies.

Meanwhile, his mother gave him his own room where he started spray-painting the wall. Despite his passion for art, he did not see how he could earn a living from it. Adults asked him to become an engineer or an architect and he just bought it.

“Art no longer mattered and became crap. I stopped drawing during Mathiam 1-3 (grades 7-9) but used my skills to become a gangster such as school name tag and Making block screens. It was no longer an art in and of itself,” he said.

Despite a gap of three years, he went to the Vocational College where he studied Applied Art. In the new environment, most of the students were enthusiastic about music and other art forms. He developed his talent by chance as he helped friends with homework. However, he realized that commercial art was not his way.

“I used to put Marilyn Manson the enemy of jesus christ In my work. My teacher said that if it is removed, it would be extraordinary. Why? Do I have to serve others till I die? I am born to serve my soul,” he said.

His friend asked him to visit a gallery where a solo exhibition of abstract art was being held. He did not understand this but how a foreign artist won the applause.

“Is there a job where you can do whatever you want?” They said. Encouraged by his friend, he planned to venture into the fine arts, but this marked a departure from the other students. He said, “I was looking for an unrecognized university because of my rebellion. Why do we have to follow the system? This is my madness.”

Created by Mu Bon, the flightless black bird sits on a spray can like a rocket. (Photo by Nathwat Wichenbut)

Bonn won a place at his desired university only to be disappointed that his study environment was not stimulating. He worked hard and entered competitions to increase exposure. Once, he was commissioned to paint a mural for Sheikh Khalifa. Unlike other students, he dreamed of becoming a professional artist.

“There are only three ways: to teach, to be upper class, and to go abroad. I will be an instructor for my alma mater department,” he said.

However, their future workplaces were merged due to the reorganization of the university. His application for a master’s degree at a different university was rejected because his street art project gave the impression that he was a staunch student. Above these constraints, he found that the local art scene was inhospitable.

“Nobody was interested in art because they are poor. Feeling tired from work, they prefer to go to the shopping mall instead of the gallery. It is like that,” he said.

Bonn challenged the status quo by taking art to the streets at home and abroad. He bought foreign art magazines that contained email addresses. In those days common people were not familiar with the internet and there were artists who were opposed to the new technology. Of the more than a thousand emails he sent, he received less than 10 responses, but at least they saw his graffiti. He did many things like selling pictures to make his dream come true.

“Making art is my life, but food is essential to my stomach. I gave half of my income to my family and spent the rest on spray paint. I lost everything, but I was happy. If I didn’t succeed , then you will see the same determination in my eyes because I am used to difficulties. I have been making art for a long time. If I didn’t make it, I couldn’t do anything else,” he laughed.

Hardly anyone has seen his real face because he wants people to remember his deeds.

“I’m an empty glass. It’s like a puppet theater artist in camouflage,” he said. His street art features a wide range of cartoons, which are deeply critical of our society. For example, a one-eyed TV man in a black suit emphasizes how the media can influence human behavior. Inspired by a symbol of peace, the skull of Mickey Mouse takes aim at capitalism. He has faced constant harassment, but the most serious is the breaking of his graffiti next to the poster of the missing political activist Vanchaleram Satsakshit. “It’s just art. It doesn’t hurt anyone. Why are you [plainclothes officers] So aggressive?” he said.

Bon is breaking the boundary between art and people. Ninety-nine percent of his works are visible in a public place, but the rest are commissioned.

Her pink stuff and spray cans. (Photo by Nathwat Wichenbut)

“I want to challenge the idea that people must climb the ladder to appreciate works of art in a gallery. You can spit on my work and I won’t get angry. I just want to level the playing field.” Whether rich or poor, you should see them on the same ground,” he said. It was not until recent years that he was paid for his service. Eight years ago, he sold paintings in a solo show. In 2018, Hermes commissioned him to create an installation in a store window in Melbourne.

After two decades, he saw a change in public attitudes towards graffiti partly because he and fellow street artists proved that it could revitalize abandoned urban areas, for example, Penang. It can help generate business activities.

“Art can be of great value. It can advocate for social change and heal emotional wounds. Without art, I can lose my mind, so I devote all my energy to creative pursuits until I don’t get one with it,” he said.

He has also seen the rise of the younger generation. Born in the Dark Age of Information, he recalled “waiting in a queue for the only book on art in the library since 1932”, while the youth now had access to knowledge at their fingertips. On the day of our interview, he encouraged a young follower to try his hand at graffiti.

He said, “Except for actors, I rarely spend time with people of the same age, as they often let my dreams down. On the other hand, the youth of my 20s are ready to give me enthusiastic support, ” They said.

Given their status, Bonn reminded itself of the spirit of graffiti, which grew in popularity in America in the 1960s. “Don’t be a conservative who points the finger at others for not following your so-called basic style. Don’t forget the rebellious root of graffiti. If you refuse to change, you can’t live with anything, ” They said. His recent artwork, a painting on a vintage metal advertising board, reflects this contemporary spirit. “The old one has to adapt to survive. It’s like my exhibition on marijuana. I’m giving a whole new meaning to the old plant. It’s creative destruction,” he said.

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