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The extraordinary world of Art Samui.

The extraordinary world of Art Samui.You might not want to admit it, but almost all of us have a secret hankering to be an action hero and to be cresting an adrenalin wave while in hair-raising situations. After all, excitement is something that’s in our blood, and if we’re reining ourselves in, then we’re going to find life becomes pretty hum-drum after a while.


Of course, it’s possible to pursue a daring life and be subject to great danger and all the ups and downs that living on the edge provides. It’s guaranteed that you’ll never have a dull moment again. But – and this is the problem – you’ll be swapping it for frequent doses of terror. Improbable as it seems, this is where art can come to your aid. You can step into a more exciting life but one that’s safe and where there’s no fear at all. Art Samui allows you to play out many different roles in a wide variety of situations. It might not raise your heartbeat as much as the real thing, but it’ll certainly provide oodles of fun. And, well, it might just turn out to be more than the sum of its parts, but we’ll come to that later.


When you step into Art Samui, you’re entering a different world altogether, one that’s comprised of endless optical illusions, tricks and bizarre settings. This isn’t the result of computer technology, but relies on good old fashioned paintings, but done so well that everything appears real - at least in photographs. And this is what Art Samui is all about.


Stand in front of the paintings, get your friend, partner or family member to take your photo, and the results will appear extremely real. In one photo, you’ll be stepping across a chasm, in another walking on the moon, and in still yet another happily lying on a bedroom ceiling.Page-68-2


How is all this possible? The people at Art Samui commissioned a painter to produce life-like backgrounds against which you can be photographed. Each setting has instructions on how to pose to get the most realistic photograph. Markers on the ground show you where to stand and once you’ve clicked away a few times you’ll be astonished how life-like the photos turn out to be.


It’s basically a lot of fun, and with some 70 paintings to pose against, there are endless possibilities. On average it’ll take about an hour and a half to get round the entire gallery – but you’ll hardly notice the time anyway, because you’ll be so engaged in what you’re doing.


The concept of trick paintings has been around for some time, and was popular in travelling fairs, but Art Samui takes the illusions to the next level. The owners were originally inspired by the trick art of various galleries in their native Korea. They saw people having a lot of fun in such places, and wanted to create something similar on Samui.Page-68-3


They’ve certainly succeeded and their gallery is a massive, roomy affair up in Choeng Mon. It looks every bit like an art gallery with high white walls, and once inside, the many different rooms, all with their ‘paintings’. The building is both sophisticated and laid-back at the same time, but it’s dedicated to sheer fun. It’s definitely not like any art gallery you’ve ever been in before. You’re no longer a spectator; instead, you’re part of the picture. Without you, these are just strange, bemusing tableaux that have little meaning.


Some people might say that this is just a gimmick – after all, it’s not real – but when you’re actually taking part, and you’ll want to once you get inside, you’ll find the experience is oddly liberating. For once, you can really relax and enjoy yourself, and as you proceed, taking on more and more parts, you’ll have no option but to adapt quickly to each new situation you find yourself in. Without even realizing it, your mind will get a mental workout and you’ll leave behind your usual self and your usual life. Unless you’re a trapeze artist or a stunt person in real life, you’re bound to find a couple of hours at Art Samui are a very exhilarating experience.


Children enjoy it as much as adults do. There are jungles, dinosaurs, huge fish, and all manner of adventures to be had. But unless you’re of age, avoid the adult room where you can enjoy being part of erotic scenes (it certainly gives a new definition to the cliché of ‘faking it’).The extraordinary world of Art Samui.


Art Samui is open daily from 10:00 am until 9:00 pm and you’ll find it in Choeng Mon. Drive up the beach road at Chaweng, heading north, and simply keep on going (don’t take the airport turning) and you’ll find it some five kilometres out of town, on your right. Alternatively, you can call for the very reasonably-priced pick-up service and go there and back in a private car (available in Chaweng, Lamai and Maenam).


There’s also a beautiful contemporary café, offering tea, coffee, drinks and ice-cream, where you can sit inside an air-conditioned room or outside on a grassy terrace. If your camera doesn’t work or you’ve forgotten it, then Art Samui has its own professional photographer who will take photos of you, again at a very reasonable price, photo-shop them and give them to you on a CD or memory stick. And last but not least, if you come alone, then staff will photograph you for free – and you’ll end up with some strange and wonderful shots for your family and friends.


Good art always leaves you feeling in some way different; it always adds to who you are. Art Samui may not follow the pattern of galleries the world over, but it will leave you feeling very different. And it might just give you some ideas for a new departure in your life. Whatever happens, the fun’s guaranteed.


 Dimitri Waring


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