Wings of Throne features eight pairs of Svay Sareth’s soft sculptures in the form of camouflage dragon’s wings. It was said that the monarch in current power is often supported by wings allowing a dragon to fly through Cambodia’s history, spanning forty-five years. These wings are thus deemed as a necessary vessel to Cambodian society, wherein the rules to support a master crown once fraught with corruption and bloodshed, are now idealized to be upheld with honour and true liberation. Through elements of satire accompanied with touch-friendly material choices, the artist presents the dilemma and diorama of a post-war dream for artistic freedom.
Svay Sareth (b.1972, Battambang, Cambodia)’s works in sculpture, installation and durational performance are made using materials and processes intentionally associated with war – metals, uniforms, camouflage and actions requiring great endurance. While his critical and cathartic practice is rooted in an autobiography of war and resistance, he refuses both historical particularity and voyeurism on violence. Rather, his works traverse both present and historical moments, drawing on processes of survival and adventure, and ideas of power and futility. More recently, Svay confronts the idea that “the present is also a dangerous time” through the appropriation and dramatization of public monuments that hint at contentious political histories.
Svay Sareth was born in Battambang, Cambodia during a period of political turmoil and violence that would last until he was 18 years old. Svay began making art as a young teenager in the Site 2 refugee camp, near the Thai-Cambodian border. He describes life as a refugee as “a void nationality…a time and place you imagine escaping from.” Drawing and painting became a daily activity for Svay – a process of bearing witness to the psychological and physical violence that was an everyday experience, as well as a way to symbolically escape and dream of change. After the wars ended, Svay went on to co-found Phare Ponlue Selepak, a non-governmental organization and art school in Battambang that continues to thrive today. In 2002, the artist continued his studies in France, earning the Diplôme National Supérieur d’Études des Arts Plastiques / MFA in 2009, after which he returned to Siem Reap to live and work.
Svay Sareth – Wings of Throne
1 - 23 April 2022
Richard Koh Fine Art,
Blk 47 Malan Road,
#01-26 Gillman Barracks,
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