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Publication Date : 11-02-2013
A Thai opens a consultancy to help others build a great contemporary art collection
When he starting collecting contemporary art two decades ago, Disaphol Chansiri always relied on the advice of Joseph Carroll.
Disaphol's personal art consultant accompanied him to art fairs around the globe, steering him away from dodgy deals and toward solid value for money.
Now Disaphol, the owner of an art studio in Bangkok and a gallery in Chiang Mai - along with works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Yoshitomo Nara, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Chatchai Puipia and the late Montien Boonma - believes he's expert enough to be other people's art consultant.
Last week's opening of DCA Art Consultant at the St Regis Hotel drew a big crowd of fellow gallery chiefs and collectors including Boonchai Benjarongkul of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The DCA gallery is decorated with masterpieces from home and abroad. Above a comfy black sofa hangs "Sweet Chili", an oil by the late Fue Haripitak. Nearby is Ravindra Reddy's deliriously grinning 2004 sculpture "Tara".
A rare impressionist painting, "Vecchio Cimitero di Sam Phaya", is there, painted by the Italian Galileo Chini while he was employed by King Rama IV. It once held the gaze of visitors to the Venice Biennale a century ago. A 1951 glazed-ceramic vase by Pablo Picasso vies for attention with Yasumasa Morimura's striking 2001 digital print "An Inner Dialogue with Frida Kahlo" and Julian Schnabel's 1993 abstract "Bueuelos".
Drawing on his long experience as a collector, Disaphol has already begun advising close friends and rookie collectors who want to invest in art or enliven their homes with it.
"New collectors need help in buying, speculating on value and managing their collections," Disaphol tells The Nation. "Acquisition of a new artwork can be enjoyable - as well as challenging. To purchase art, especially from world-class artists, you need a professional dealer of your own."
Disaphol's firm helps clients select works to build up a collection that reflects their individual taste and personality. It promises them a lifetime of discovery and joy in nurturing the collection.
Disaphol earned a PhD in law and diplomacy at Tufts University's Fletcher School and worked for Thailand's Commerce Ministry for four years before starting his own property company.
While establishing his extensive art collection over 15 years, Disaphol completed a museum-studies course with Harvard Extension University and an interior-design session at Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design in London. He currently serves as a board member for several art-related organisations.
In DCA, Disphol has German Max-Ole Casdorff as director, bringing an MA in cultural management from Chulalongkorn University and a BA from the SAE Institute Berlin, plus experience as project manager at Germany's Erich Thienhaus Institute and China's National Museum of Science and Technology. He's worked as an art consultant and designer in Germany, Switzerland and Thailand.
Veteran art director Gridtiya Gaweewong is DCA's adviser, and Disaphol hires freelancers to install exhibitions, arrange the insurance and manage preservation. As the primary consultant, DCA charges its clients between 10 to 16 per cent of the value of an artwork successfully acquired.
"As a collector myself, I often go to art fairs from Basel to Hong Kong to buy works, and I'm always in contact with dealers in Europe, America and Asia," Disaphol says.
"In the world art market, money is nothing for some dealers. They normally check on your collections and personal background. One of my customers wanted to buy an Ai Weiwei work, but his representative didn't sell them, so he came to us."
In Thailand he buys art from the leading commercial galleries. He acquired social-theme pieces by Vasan Sithikhet, Kamin Lerchapiprat and Montien Boonma from the Numthong Gallery, while Chatchai Puipia's works come from 100 Tonson Gallery. Masterpieces by Thawan Duchanee and the late Sawasdi Tantisuk are from the Somboon Gallery, and the Number 1 Gallery provided a Prasong Luemuang painting and a Sutee Kunawichayanont installation.
As a major collector, Disaphol can count on getting discounts at the galleries, and he can pass on the savings to his own customers.
Meanwhile some collectors own many masterpieces, Disaphol says, but they don't know how to handle them properly. He's currently assisting his billionaire friend Chanida Sophopanich in decorating her new house.
"Masterworks by Chamruang Vichientkhet and Thawan Duchanee can go well with recent contemporary pieces," he notes.
Disaphol is also decorating a condo for a Bangkok-based French designer who loves Thai art, and is often an adviser to new hotels and condominiums.
"It's good to have such a high standard of art consultant here," says Numthong Tang of the Numthong Gallery. "I hope it'll help making our art market brighter."
DCA Art Consultant is open daily from 11am to 7pm on the second floor of the St Regis Hotel. Find out more at www.DCABangkok.com.