Bangkok Blues

Bangkok artist Benxblues makes it fun to gett lost. When you look at her work, your eyes can wander aimlessly, stumbling across new and surprising things at every turn. Her illustrations are a jumble of forms piled on top of each other, with cartoons, text, and Thai references filling her pages via clean, quick linework.

Her style is multinational, happily flitting from American cartoon characters and snacks, to Thai guardians and signage, Japanese anime and a lucky cat, and even a spray paint-wielding Ganesh. And then there’s the textβ€”so much text. Thai, English , Cyrillic, Chinese, Japanese, and Sanskrit. Everything and anything.

Benxblues, otherwise known as Mayawee Thongsong, sees this diversity as an exploration of beauty, but also as a strategy. “All languages are beautiful,” she says wistfully. “Plus, the more languages I use, the more attractive my art will be to people of different nationalities.” This approach to an international audience has proven valuable, especially in the NFT world. “It’s helped my work become more popular because there are many foreigners who see the value of my work.”

But she drills deeply into local culture as well, with pieces like her “Bangkok” diptych, exploring the city she was born and raised in. “This is Bangkok shitty,” she says. In one piece, she explores the city’s charms, showing off its broad avenues, unique shopping, the Hua Lamphong terminal, and a Thai giant. It’s a dense piece with the only negative space being the city’s name written in Thai over the scene. The next piece features only the name, each letter crammed with the downsides of life here: poverty, congestion, militarism, surveillance. The Hangover this isn’t.

Overall though, Benxblues aims to create joy and make people smile when they look at her work. And it’s pretty hard not to enjoy the bubbly vibrating scenes she creates.