20 September 2014, 7pm-9pm at The 1961
What do we consider sacred? Who do we deem holy? Why are they worthy to be worshipped? In Phok Sopheap’s new series of paintings, the artist confronts the viewers with questions of how we define the divine. He begins his journey with a version of the Statue of Liberty, an almost-divine symbol of freedom for the new world. Yet, he redefines this symbol with images of the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Egypt and countless other national symbols of pride – merging and enwrapping the body as it is finally crowned by a Muslim mosque and a Buddhist temple in a glowing halo.
The lotus, Cambodia’s ubiquitous flower is an underlying theme that is present in all his works. Some of them playing a small symbolic part in the bigger picture but most of them define the picture itself. The leaves, the buds and the pods either frame the black silhouette of the enlightened Buddha or become the suggestive image in themselves. Black and the emptiness it beams take on the backdrop of most of the work, but at some points, a riot of colours take over, whirling into the canvas like a burst of fleeting euphoria – a technique that has been the artist’s signature since he started working on canvas.
Phok Sopheap is a self-taught artist from Battambang. Formerly a barista at a coffee shop, Sopheap spent time hanging out with artists and developed an interest in art through interesting conversations and self-discovery. Sopheap first came as an artist-in-residence at 1961 Gallery in June 2013 and from then on, grew as an artist and landing him exhibitions all over Cambodia. This is his third exhibition in the space alone.
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