street acrobat
Street acrobat, Siem Reap 2008. Copyright Adam Aitken 2013.

Over at Newmandala.com Chris Coles has written an article about the influence of Expressionism and noir on Southeast Asian artists and writers.  He provides

“a post about German Expressionism and how I see its relationship to the cultural movement known as South East Asia Noir.

I’m not writing as an academic or art historian but as an artist, about what it is I find so interesting and like about the Expressionist vision and how I use it in my own Expressionist-style noir paintings set in South East Asia…”

He discusses writers inspired by noir:

“In these noir stories, songs, films and paintings, the world of South East Asia is often portrayed as a world in which most of the inhabitants accept their own powerlessness or impotence in the face of arbitrary and unrestrained authority, accept that they have little or no recourse in the face of widespread injustice.”

He cites a list of writers he sees as noir:

  • “Writers like Federico Ferrara, the author of the non-fiction book Thailand Unhinged, a brutal analysis of Thailand’s present-day political scene;
  • Christopher G. Moore whose Calvino series, especially the one set in early 1990’s Phnom Penh, Zero Hour in Phnom Penh, is pure noir;
  • John Burdett and his series of noir detective stories set in South East Asia based around the character of a Thai policeman named Sonchai Jitpleecheep;
  • Jake Needham’s various South East Asia-based thrillers;
  • Tim Hallinan and his Poke Rafferty series;
  • Cleo Odzier’s harrowing Patpong Sisters; or Stephen Leather’s classic noir novel from the Bangkok Night titled Private Dancer;
  • The Phnom Penh-based music group KROM and their recent album/CD, Songs from the Noir;
  • The original Bangkok Dangerous film by the Pang Brothers and the more recent film True Skin, a short but powerful portrayal of Bangkok in a brutal noir future by the talented young director Stephan Zlotescu;
  • Some of the Thai artists like Chatchai Puipia, Vasan Sitthiket and Anupong Chantorn”

Read more here.

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