Bus Paintings in Thailand: A Post-Modern Urban Art Form in Comparative Perspective
Studies of paintings on motorized vehicles are rare. Existing studies indicate that such paintings play a role in national identity politics or serve as means of representation of an alternative national history. This article deals with the origins and execution of airbrush paintings on charter tour coaches in Thailand, and with the sources and styles of the motifs represented on them. The paintings are produced in a hybridized process, involving artwork and computerization; they are thus a post-modern art form, which is not strictly classifiable into modernist categories of art, craft, or decoration. The sources, styles, and motifs of the paintings reflect global influences: They are highly heterogeneous, deriving primarily from contemporary Western or Japanese popular cultures or from Thai or Chinese ‘traditional’ painting. The bus-owners’ motivations for the choice of motifs are primarily aesthetic and social rather than religious or political. Thai bus paintings can thus be seen as a globalized, post-modern art form, with most of the motifs just being pleasing symbols, without external reference.
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