Friday, 19 September 2008

Artwork explores views on society and traffic

Tracey Shelton; Artist Leang Seckon holds up one of his traffic pieces, which are on display at the French Cultural Centre.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara
Friday, 19 September 2008

The relationship between Phnom Penh residents and the everyday traffic that affects their lives is explored in artwork by artist Leang Seckon

A NEW exhibit opening at the French Cultural Centre on Saturday will include works by painter and graphic designer Leang Seckon, whose art takes an unconventional look at Cambodian society.

Some of the artist's most interesting works focus on the relationship between Phnom Penh's residents and the maelstrom of traffic through which their lives move each day.

"I focus on traffic because we have so many accidents, and almost no one respects the laws," he explained.

In one collage, a police officer atop a motorcycle helmet waves drivers to the side of the road. A squashed frog lies ominously in the foreground as a painted monk blesses it.

"I wanted to show that Cambodian people react in traffic according to their mindset, which has been influenced by the past violence in our history," he said.

"I created this picture after a visit to Kieng Svay resort. I saw a dead frog and was sad because someone had killed it and nobody cared. It is a reflection on the difference between the rich and poor. The monk blesses the frog, and the rich man stays in his car and ignores it."

Leang Seckon said he tries to convey meaning indirectly in his works.

The policeman in the picture tries to stop motorists, who do everything they can to evade him."Our people are afraid of the police, who always try to get money from them. So they turn back and try to find another way around," he said.

Leang Seckon avoids overtly political themes in his work. "What I do is not related to politics. I explore social themes, and I don't care whether people understand them or not."

Red light, green light

Another of his works depicts a young Cambodian boy and girl circumscribed by 12 animals. Superimposed are traffic lights - three green, one red and one yellow.

"People in Cambodia don't wait for the green light. They cross whenever they want to, even if it is dangerous and could result in an accident," he said.

"I'm not trying to teach people directly. I want to present things in my art and let them discover for themselves. Art can hide many meanings inside it.

"The exhibit, which runs through October 12 at the French Cultural Centre, will also feature works by artist Daniel Perrier.

Also connected to the exhibit is an installation by French artist Georges Rousse, who will exhibit his work in the front of the National Museum on Saturday.

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