Danes Seek Exciting New Art in Southeast Asia

Asia has long been connected to the art world due to its local charm and exotic, oriental styles.  The Danish mother-and-son team, Ann (Rie) and Michael Burcharth, were searching for something a little different though when they first visited a few years ago. Focusing on a more contemporary feel, the pair has since set about finding artists to create masterpieces for their newly-formed company, Funk-Art.
This move meant that they had to quit their jobs and leave their home town Kolding in Denmark behind. However, their confidence that these paintings would sell well and their love of travel and meeting new people were enough to persuade them to start this new venture.


Vietnam 2006
Ann first landed in Southeast Asia during a trip to Vietnam in 2006. Here, a Danish friend in Ho Chi Minh City led her to discover the talented Loi in Hanoi whose use of geometric shapes and bright colours made his art truly stand out from the more conservative works of the area.
Realising that these paintings would be very popular back home in Denmark, Ann and Michael later returned – this time to explore Thailand’s art scene – for three months in 2010. Here, they scoured the country from south to north to find the country’s best artists. Once they had witnessed the talent in the region, they decided to take more serious steps.
Returning in October 2011, they set up shop in Chiang Mai where they could benefit from the city’s quiet nature, friendly people and extensive arts scene. Since then, Boom from Chiang Mai and Art from Pai have both joined the company as artists, creating some absolutely stunning modern-day images.


Stretching Asia’s Creative Boundaries
The artists themselves have been more than happy to create these masterpieces, as Funk-Art gives them a chance to think outside of the box and paint something that is very different from the more traditional pieces popular in Southeast Asia.
Because they are unconstrained by the bounds of Thai, hill tribe and Buddhist imagery, their imaginations have been left free to roam, giving them the chance to come up with images which are surreal, vivid and striking in their complexity. These pieces are also very fun, made for those who enjoy having something funky and exciting in their lives.
 Of course, Ann and Michael are always on the lookout for new talent too, and spend quite a bit of time scouring the Thai art scene. It can be quite difficult to find someone who is able to move away from traditional themes and motives, however, but when they do, it is certainly worth the time and effort spent.
 After arriving in Chiang Mai, it took them a few months to find the local artist, Boom, who proved to be a valuable source of inspirational, funky works of art. With one artist in tow, they then set off to the quiet, mountain town of Pai, where they found their second creative genius, Art, who lives and paints in a bamboo hut overlooking a small, bubbling stream.


The Quest for Innovation
As is common in Southeast Asia, Ann and Michael have found their artists through word of mouth. By simply getting in touch with people in the area, they can learn about the local talent and have used this traditional Asian network to then source out people with absolutely amazing skills.
 They also have complete control of the quality of the artists chosen, first showing them examples of the style required, and then testing their skills and imagination by getting them to do some simple sketches. Those who are innovative enough to produce quality images which are different and creative then get hired to do some actual artwork for the company.


Opening webshop and studio in Denmark
Ann and Michael plan on selling these pieces through their website, http://www.funk-art.dk/, which will start business on April 20 this year. Through this web shop, they hope to open up the world of contemporary Asian artwork to the Danish people, letting them enjoy images which have come from some of the region’s most creative minds.
The site will also promote four Danish artists who create pictures in this unique, imaginative style. These have been individually sourced by Ann and Michael themselves so that they can then ensure the same quality and creativity of all of the website’s artworks.
 Funk-Art is already showing signs of success with paintings being sold to private and corporate buyers in both Thailand and Denmark. In the future, Ann and Michael hope to open a studio in Kolding where they can display the different works that they have available.
This gallery will be open by appointment so that buyers can get a chance to intimately browse through these images free from outside distractions. Ann will act as the Danish representative there while Michael will deal with the artists back in Thailand.
Those who are interested in purchasing these paintings can contact Ann on rievietnam@hotmail.com while the website is still under construction.

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