Few characters are as iconic in the Thai street art scene as Alex Face’s creations. His toddler character—modeled after his daughter and painted in soft blends, pastel colors, and an intentional sense of vulnerability—has become a model for how a generation approaches street art. He got an early start, painting walls before street art was embraced in Asia, and took to it with an immediate passion that has led to international travel, gallery sales, and annual profiles in the Bangkok Post.
Alex’s work rarely deviates from the simplified depictions of his widely recognized character, but he’s passionate about injecting meaning into it. The character, named Mardi, usually has three eyes with different colors and is often hooded in a fuzzy bunny hat. “When my child was younger, I found myself deeply moved by stories of young victims of both domestic and societal violence,” he says. As a way to speak on that, he used the symbol of the rabbit as an animal of prey. The third eye has multiple meanings and represents questioning, awareness, and the embrace of diversity. “It has ancient origins and holds different meanings across cultures—some view it as positive, while others see it as negative. As such, it’s a call to accept our differences and coexist peacefully.”
The eye colors were the result of chance, starting on a day Alex didn’t have enough blue paint and landed on the idea of purposefully using different colors, then finding meaning after the fact. “Sometimes we experience contradictions within ourselves, suggesting that there are always multiple points of view. The colors red and blue often symbolize opposing sides.” During COVID, he gravitated towards painting skulls as a way to capture the uncertainty surrounding life and death inspired by 17th-century Dutch vanitas paintings. “Death can happen at any time, we can’t predict it. If we’re aware of it, maybe we’ll value life and time more.”
Painting in the streets presents unique challenges that require creative solutions benefiting the pieces in the end, whether aesthetically or philosophically. “I often look around to see if the wall’s surface is interesting, consider the wall’s size, and think about how surrounding objects could inspire me,” he explains. Electrical wires common around the city become an element of the painting itself or a piece in a garbage dump becomes a comment on the disposability of people in today’s culture. Opposing pillars offer the chance to paint contrasting characters and a tight column emphasizes claustrophobic vibes.
One hurdle Alex often faces is the demands of building owners when painting permission walls, who often have lists of do’s and don’ts and request that that social and political commentary be avoided. While he relishes the opportunities these spots provide, like the ability to create on a large scale in prominent locations, he speaks more passionately about painting in the streets without permission. “I thrive on the sense of freedom it offers, since I can tackle any topic.”