‘The awareness that we are allhuman beings together has become lost in war and through politics ’ (1952 Nobel Peace Prize philosopher Albert Schweitzer)

As a multidisciplinary artist my work explores a variety of issues reflecting the unstable contemporary age, drawing inspiration from my Cambodian origins. I like to produce effective emotional narratives while conveying a coherent and consistent sense of harmony and unity utilising combinations of everyday materials including resin, polystyrene, glass, concrete, ceramic and wool.

The creation of these works satisfies my psyche and a subconscious urge drawn from lost childhood memory formed amid the complexity of war. I like to explore the personal yet universal challenges of war, questioning the correlation between us and the horror and tragic consequences of war.

I have engaged in ten years of contemplation, meditating on the dramatic significance of war through the medium of painting, utilising only a single colour to literally blow up the canvas, to emphasise the dark silhouette that crowds the space to reveal the horror of conflict. I employ the ancient imagery of war to not only narrate, but also to reflect on and raise questions about contemporary warfare.

It is not my intention to make bold political or social statements in my art work. I am more interested in hinting at the direction. I invite the viewer to engage in a process of self-reflection that may lead to subversion of a variety of stereotypical cultural categories and provoke direct reactions in the viewer to accomplish the difficult process of going beyond the surface of communication to engage and stimulate their social conscience.

The narrative behind my works initially revealed itself through my first series of twelve paintings called The Red Cross Series (1999 -2000). This semi abstract series has a figurative narrative plagued with symbolism of the unstoppable destructive might of war and the fragility of its victims. Since the series, I yearned, through my art work, to continue to investigate and engage in a dialogue to stimulate awareness of this narrative.

One of the most convincing aspects of my approach is the way it creates a non-conventional and engaging narrative. For example, my 30m installation Ka -Boom! (2016) provides a multi-layered experience for the viewer. As the viewer strolls into and through the space -encompassing art work, it establishes a channel of communication between the subconscious sphere and perceptual reality.

The work Listen (2014) conjures by stirring and encapsulating the emotion of the viewer, leaving goose bumps crawling on the surface of the skin. This work was reviewed by Giulia Pergola, an Italian art historian: “Listen is in a sense a memento of what we were, what we are and what we will be destined to become if we don’t take care of other people and do not listen to them. It is a work of art that involves us closely, that impresses us and touches us; calling for attention, yelling into their deafening silence, just like that ear isolated from the heads.  We have to listen to each other and find our deep essence.”

My recent paintings reflect a sketchy, spontaneous play with the typology of historic images that echo my interests in Eastern Asian and Western Islamic art.  The minimalistic approach and use of monochromatic colours, are influences from my visit to China in 2005 and the works of Chinese master painters. They also reference the ancient relief sculptures on the walls of Angkor Wat I perceived during a 1999 visit to Cambodia.

Currently, I have been developing art work inspired by British and American Pop Art. I take the world of Comics from speech balloons which I process, deconstruct and then reassemble the form to create sculptures and space that encompass installations. Rather than reproducing a naïve and cheerful appearance, the works become critical investigations of aesthetic and social phenomena. They are disturbing and subversive-political allusions that express wittiness, humour and biting irony.

For example, I combine incongruity and humour in my most recent large scale sculpture work (2.5meters) POP! BANG! BOOM! little Pom Poms always turn into the mother of all POM! (2016), to captivate the obscurity of the 3000+ handmade red wool pom poms, while using it as a metaphor for all the tragedies that war has caused.

Influenced by internationally renowned artists including sculptors Antony Gormley and Li Chen and the painter Li Jin while at the international Red Gate residency in Beijing during 2016, I reoriented my work back to casting abstracted figurative sculptures.

Like Li Chen, I sculpt human forms through gestural movements, similar to the dry paint brush Li Jin uses on canvas to express. The sculptures will be grouped together as an installation, enabling viewers to walk around, self-reflect and contemplate.

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An interview by curators Josh Ryder and Barbara Scott, online publication;ARTiculAction Art Review; special edition; summer 2016

Giulia Pergola ‘ Review on work '