Paint your next pad see ew and win 80K baht, Bangkok

What stains the wide, ropy rice noodles of pad see ew? Is it the exigencies of the pan, the fated vicissitudes of marination in the sauces of soy, oyster, and fish? Does the classic Thai dish whisper of post-truth ennui?

While answers to these questions may be unknowable, one objective truth is certain: Someone’s getting THB80,000 (US$2,300) two months from now for their painting of stir-fried noodles – and a show at Bangkok’s TARS Gallery.

“What makes a good pad see ew painting? It’s a good question,” gallery founder Pierre Bechon said this morning. “It could be the realism, or it can be the creativity around the reproduction of this dish. I think we’re not going to expect too much right now. We want to get out of the representational aspect. We want to be surprised. I know some people will compete with very different approaches to painting.”

Submissions are now open for anyone who deems themself an artist to enter the gallery’s contest for the best painting of the familiar dish. While the winner gets the crispy cash, a number of finalists will also be featured at a two-week exhibition, Bechon said.

So, why pad see ew? Love, apparently.

Bechon said the idea came from curator Adulaya Hoontrakul, who was asked by a friend if she knew an artist who painted food because the dish played a key role in the beginning of a relationship that ended in marriage.

Art may be subjective, but a contest must have criteria. Asked what would comprise a winning painting, Bechon started with “composition.”

A commercial photographer will be one of the judges, and “she will look at the composition, in terms of balance.”

Like, how the noodles are arranged across the canvas? “It has to be appealing,” he said, laughing.

“I think we will feel it, when we see the results,” he added. “Which will be the best one.”

Are they prepared for people to tape soggy rice noodles to the wall? “It will happen for sure,” he responded. “We asked for it.”

To help nudge people in the right conceptual direction, TARS included in its announcement an image of Van Gogh’s Still Life with Basket of Apples.

What’s next? A meditation on khao soi? Charred mu-gata landscapes?

Bechon is unsure, but said it may be the first of such contests, depending on how it goes.

The contest is open any artist regardless of nationality. Submissions must be actual paintings – so save your NFTs for someone who cares. The final work must be 1 meter by 1 meter. Entry is free.
Submissions can be made online and must be sent by Oct. 10. Find all the deets on the submission form.

For fun and because tomorrow is a holiday, we asked Big Ai to paint pad see ew. Here’s what it came up with:

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