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Posts Tagged ‘Katie de Tilly’

Historic show documents development of Cambodian art – Forever Until Now

Posted by artradar on March 9, 2009


CAMBODIAN ART SHOW

In a unique documentary and historic show, Cambodian-based curator Erin Gleeson brings the works of  14 Cambodian modern and contemporary artists  to 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in Hong Kong. This post is the first in a three part series.

 Sopheap Pich, Cycle 2008

Forever Until Now – 10 Chancery Lane, Hong Kong to 25 April 2009

The ground-breaking show aims to provide an overview of the evolution of experimental and contemporary art in Cambodia and covers 3 generations of artists born between 1933 and 1988.

What prompted the exhibition? 

Dealer Katie de Tilly began planning the exhibition last summer when she took an exploratory trip to Cambodia  and was shown around by bamboo sculptor Sopheap Pich and  US- born curator Erin Gleeson who has been based in Cambodia for the last 5 years. Whereas Thailand and Vietnam have been receiving international exposure for some time, Cambodian contemporary artists are on the cusp of  interntional recognition. The work of Cambodian artists will be shown for the first time at the up-coming Asia Pacific Triennial 2009.

 Why is Cambodian art getting attention now?

Until a decade ago contemporary art in Cambodia simply did not exist but after the opening of the Reyum Institute of Art and Culture in 1998 and other galleries such as Java Cafe, more cutting-edge works began to emerge among the traditional works of silk weavings, silver and stone sculptures.

It has been over 30 years since the 1979 toppling of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot’s totalitarian regime. During the last decade Cambodia has enjoyed a period of political stability which has allowed an opening up to external cultural influences and a gradual blooming of the art scene.

During the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979 a dozen or so artists left the country to study abroad  but when they returned there was little art infrastructure to support their practice.

Despite an absence of government funding for the arts, international collectors are beginning to become aware of the significant changes in Cambodian art practice thanks to the activities of private galleries (from Thailand in particular), curators ( like Erin Gleeson who established the artist resoure centre Bassac in Phnom Penh last year) and artists themselves such as Sopheap Pich who was selected for the Best of Discovery section at Shanghai Art Fair in 2008.

The artists

The artists fall into three groups. The first group only – artists born in the 1950s or before –  are covered in this post.

The following artists born from 1930s – 1950s  were formative in the development of today’s Cambodian contemporary art because each in different ways appropriated new sources of inspiration. Grandfather of art, Svay Ken focuses on the immediate and everyday instead of the sublime whereas Vann Nath’s dark  heavy work reflects the experiences of terror and torture which Cambodia suffered during Pol Pot. Stylistic development is apparent in the comic art and illustration work of Em Satya while Duang Saree is influential for innovating the traditional motifs and representations in temple art into new forms which better reflect contemporary society.

 Svay Ken, Flood at the Wedding, oil

  • SVAY Ken (1933-2008) – painter – Known locally by the respectful title Lok Ta (grandfather), Svay was remarkable for turning away from traditional art practice glorifying ancient monuments and rural landscapes and depicting in his rough self-taught style the every day moments and objects of Cambodian life. His work as a porter at the lavish Raffles hotel led to sales of his art to tourists which in time evolved into international recognition. He is collected by Fukuoka Asian Art Musuem, the Singapore Art Museum and the Queensland Art Gallery. He will represent Cambodia in the 6th Asia Pacific Art Triennial 2009.

Vann Nath, Pray for Peace, oil 

 

  • VANN Nath (1946) – one of the most honoured figures in Cambodia he is one of 7 survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s secret prison known as S-21 where 14,000 people were tortured and executed during the 1975-79 Pol Pot regime. His jailors spared his life so that he could be put to work painting and sculpting portraits of Pol Pot. Vann Nath typically paints the dark and violent events he has witnessed.

 

Duong Saree, Kbach Tonle Sap 2, watercolour

Duong Saree, Kbach Tonle Sap 2, watercolour

  • DUONG Saree (1957) – Duong Saree is a renowned teacher and innovator of Cambodian Traditional Painting. Over 6 months in 2007 she completed the largest traditional painting in Cambodia (outside the Royal Palace Walls). What is interesting about Duong Saree’s practice is that she is evolving the traditional motifs of temple painting  – usually strictly adhered to – in order to better represent the contemporary world. In this show she innovates new forms for water to complement the five surviving representations of water found in temples.

 

Em Satya, Deadly Curse of the Diamond, Watercolour

Em Satya, Deadly Curse of the Diamond, Watercolour

  • EM Satya (1952) – a comic artist – Cambodian comics first appeared in the 1960s taking inspiration from the style of French and the colour of Indian comics. He is best known as “Nono” the pseudonym under which he drew caricatures and political cartoons for newspapers in the 1990s. His newest graphic novel Flower of Battambang (2006) is already seen as a contemporary classic.

This is the first of a three-part series on this show.

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Posted in Bamboo, Cambodian, Cartoon, China, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Illustration, Museum collectors, Political, Profiles, Social | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sexual desire was capitalistic, prohibited says founding father of Chinese contemporary art Wang Keping

Posted by artradar on November 27, 2008


 

Untitled 29 1990 cherry 18cms

Untitled 29 1990 cherry 18cms

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHINESE ART MUSEUM SHOW REVIEW

Review of Wang Keping works 1979-2006 show at He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen China from 25 October 2008 to 23 November 2008.

On two floors of the little known He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen China, sculptor Wang Keping’s works stand dark and squat on white pedestals: bulging globular forms which seem to hang bauble-like in mid air. Ranging from table top-sized to several feet high, the works selected span the period from 1979 to 2006 and show how his oeuvre has evolved from his earlier ideologically-inspired creations to later works which reflect his preoccupation with nature and in particular the female form.

Like other Chinese sculptors, Wang Keping has developed his own instantly recognisable style. Gleaming burnished woods are formed into what seems to be tight piles of bulbs and irregular orbs. From a distance, framed by the rectangular white architectural pillars and beams of this intimate museum, the sculptures appear to be abstract. Close up however the viewer can discern glowing breasts, round chignons and curved arms holding the balled body of a baby. Closer again, the viewer is drawn to reach out and smooth hands over the cracks and grains in the wood which are an integral part of each final sculpture.

wang-keping Untitled ash

Untitled 14 2001 ash 46cms

“Wang Keping sometimes takes a year, sometimes up to three years to complete a sculpture” explains gallerist Katie de Tilly of 10 Chancery Lane who co-curated this show with Feng Boyi of the He Xiangning Museum. “He selects the wood when it is wet and then he waits to see how the wood cracks while it is drying and he lets these cracks direct him as he works towards the final form”.

Regarded as a founding father of Chinese contemporary political art which emerged after the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1979, Wang Keping was one of the first artists to use his work publicly to criticise China and its government. In that year 23 artists came together to create the ‘Stars’ (Xing Ning) exhibition. This was an illegal exhibition in which the non-conformist and mostly self-taught artists hung their work on the railings of the National Art Museum of China before it was closed down by police.

Katie de Tilly takes up the story “After struggling with the authorities they managed to have it reopened in Behai Park two months later and this created an explosion which threw the doors to political and artistic freedom in China wide open.” The ground-breaking Stars Exhibition received international press coverage and the sculpture Silenceby Wang Keping made it to the front page of the New York Times where Fox Butterfield the newspaper’s Beijing correspondent commented “…Mr Wang’s brazenly political often grotesque sculptures stole the show”.

In 1984 frustrated by the restrictions of his homeland, Wang Keping emigrated to France with his wife Catherine Dezaly a French teacher at the Beijing University. The liberal climate in Europe allowed him to embrace his interest in the female form. “It is not only because I am a man, it is also because ..desire was prohibited. The leaders told us to work for the masses, the party. Sex was immoral, evil and capitalistic. At that time we never saw a woman’s body not even in books or films but it was something we always were thinking about”.

A man of strong enthusiasms Wang Keping’s appreciation of wood is sensual and his eyes light up with passion as he talks about its elemental qualities. “the wood whispers to me its secrets. Trees are like a human body with hard parts like bones, tender parts like flesh. You cannot go against its nature. I can do nothing but follow the wood and accept being its accomplice”.

But don’t be deceived by the distinctive tyle and repetition of motifs in Wang Keping’s works. He plays no part in contributing to China’s reputation for formulaic ‘pile ’em high’ market-feeding art. For example Wang Keping does not work with assistants: “Sculpting is like making love” he says “I don’t need anyone to help me”.

His art is slow, his vision unique and his execution his own. Perhaps this is what makes Wang Keping so confident that his work will stand the test of time. “What is important is that you create something that will remain throughout history. And with time it stays. Often all the superficial things float to the top and all the things that weigh sink to the bottom and when the water is poured away it is the things at bottom that remain.”

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Posted in China, Chinese, Cultural Revolution, Curators, Human Body, Museum shows, Political, Sculpture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »