I remember discovering the art of Chris Coles over 10 years ago. My first thought was: this guy seems interesting. Nobody is doing what he is doing. Dozens had written about the Bangkok Night before and dozens have written about it since, but in the 21st Century, Chris Coles has been the indisputable leader in painting the darkness and the neon of Bangkok’s notorious night paths.
But he does more than paint. He provides the quintessential social commentary needed with every colored frame. Chris Coles is to Bangkok Noir as Gary Trudeau was to Washington D.C. politics. The efficiency of what he gets across with the written word is classic story telling, usually with conflict involved, not often with catharsis.
Like many great artists, Chris Coles is misunderstood at times. There are some that see him as a proponent or cheerleader for the pay for play sex industry in Thailand. Not true. Chris has merely been making an extensive documentary in his art for over a decade.
The word prolific is overused but it is not overstated in his case. In NAVIGATING THE BANGKOK NOIR the very best of Chris Coles over 1,000 paintings have been selected. There are dozens of Chris Coles expressionist paintings to be found here, along with his equally colorful descriptive narrative. Since the book has been published, Chris continues to paint religiously about a subject that never leaves him lacking for inspiration.
Christopher G. Moore writes an excellent Forward to the book explaining the world of noir that Chris Coles captures so well.
And what is a noir artist? To paraphrase noir writer, Paul D. Brazill, it is one that paints the world with light and pitch black shadows.
I have no idea which authors will be remembered best in the 22nd Century for having written about the Bangkok night in the early 21st Century, if any at all. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the legacy of Chris Coles, the art of Chris Coles and the words of Chris Coles will linger well into the 22nd Century and beyond. His art, his documentary will be a reminder of a dark time. A time that once was and never will be, exactly, that way, again.
Note: For those wishing to see more paintings by Chris Coles go to the Home Page and scroll down to the post about poet John Gartland or use the search box for Chris Coles.