Portrait K Exhibition at the Plantation
The Plantation opens an exhibition of polychrome lacquered paintings by Theam entitled Portrait K at the Lotus Pond Gallery from Feb. 8 at 6pm.
Born in Takeo Province, southern Cambodia, Theam was a nine-year-old boy when the Khmer Rouge regime fell and Vietnam invaded Cambodia in December 1978. Forced to flee their war-torn homeland, his family arrived in France as refugees in 1980. Theam immersed himself in the French artistic education system and shortly after graduating from the excellent Fine Art School in Paris, Theam returned to his native Cambodia to reunite with those he had left behind. He is one of the few returnee Cambodians currently involved in helping revive the Cambodian craft sector, and has been enthusiastically doing so since 1995.
Inspired by the religious murals of Cambodia’s majestic pagodas, along with the technique of polychrome and lacquer-ware, in his series Portraits of the today’s Khmerpeople, Theam expresses his perception of a reality where peculiarity and beauty combine seamlessly. We are invited to witness a series of intimate visual essays on the blurred ambiguity between ‘common’ people and those considered ‘sacred’. The figures that play such a strong role in Theam’s paintings set a curious scene in which confusion and ambivalence reign.
Theam’s creative process includes polychrome images with successive layers of paint, enhanced by scratched effects. The composition of fine layers of strong acrylic colours creates a rich thickness which is then softened by meticulous sandpapering. Theam plays a ceaseless game of addition and subtraction with his materials, discovering new and fascinating effects.