Out of Line
Tracing Abstraction Within Contemporary Art in Cambodia
18th Nov – 20th Dec, 2019
Curated by Erin Gleeson
Out Of Line considers abstraction in the practices of ten artists born in Cambodia between 1933-1990 through conversations between the deviant and fecund potentials of its title. “Out of line” signals someone or something out of place, and assumes the need for correction, while it also points to potentiality through line; how line gives birth.
Dominant art historical narratives plot line’s behavior and function through time as a continuum: be it for language, symbol, ritual, narrative, or decoration, towards its status as a formal element of art treated within modernism’s value systems, to a conceptual and critical tool of the contemporary. The exhibition proposes all of these and more, simultaneously, when considering contemporary art in the Cambodian context.
Three galleries draw attention to how the exhibited artists have construed line in their personal desire for new relations – both freedom from and dialogue with – nationalized identities and aesthetics, through works of figural, partial or total abstraction.
Erin Gleeson is a curator, researcher and writer. From 2011-2018, Erin was the co-founding director and curator of SA SA BASSAC, a non-profit exhibition space, reading room and resource center in Phnom Penh. Her recent curatorial work includes: Elevations Laos, Vientiane (2018); On Attachments and Unknowns, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (with May Adadol Ingawanij, 2017); and Satellite Program 8, Jeu de Paume, Paris, and CAPC, Bordeaux (2015-2016). Recent speaking engagements include: Journey in the Dreams of the Children at the Border, Curatorial Practices in Asia, Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; Experimenter Curator’s Hub, Kolkata; Body Blocs: Cham Space in Vietnam and Cambodia, Myanm/art, Yangon (all 2018); Flight from the Empire, House of World Cultures, Berlin; SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia from 1980-Today, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (both 2017). Erin’s writing is forthcoming in: From a History of Exhibitions Towards a Future of Exhibition-Making: China and Southeast Asia, Sternberg Press; Minstrel Kuik, a monograph, Skira; Geneology of Bassac, Graham Foundation (all 2020). She holds an MA, Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa, SOAS, University of London.
About the artists
Chan Dany (born 1984, Prey Veng) is known for reinterpreting ancient Khmer cultural forms and practices that embrace play as a form of preservation. His solo exhibitions include Sampot: The Collection of Small Things (2013) and If They Were With Us Today (2012), both at SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh. Select group exhibitions include: Sovereign Asian Art Prize Finalist Exhibition, Hong Kong (2017); Shapeshifting: Contemporary Art From Southeast Asia, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong (2016); And That Which Was Always Known, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore; and Swimming in Sand; Growing Rice Under an Umbrella, No Vacancy, Melbourne, Australia (2014). Dany studied traditional Khmer forms and practices as well as contemporary art at the Art School of Reyum Institute of Art and Culture in Phnom Penh, graduating in 2007. He is based in Phnom Phnom.
Leang Seckon (1970s, Prey Veng) works primarily in painting and collage to reconstruct official history through autobiography, myth, religion, politics and popular culture. Seckon’s solo exhibitions include: Prophecy, McNichols Civic Center Building, Denver (2019);
When Head and Body Unite, Rossi & Rossi, Hong Kong (2017); and Influence: The New Age, Java Gallery, Phnom Penh (2016). Notable group exhibitions include: reBIRTH reVITALISE reGENERATION, National Museum of Cambodia, Phnom Penh (2017); 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, QGOMA, Brisbane (2015); Shanghai Biennale (2012); 4th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Japan (2009). Seckon has held residencies in USA and Japan. He holds a BA, Plastic Arts (1996) and Design (2002), Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh. Seckon is based in Phnom Penh.
Nov Cheanick’s (born 1989, Site 2 refugee camp, Thailand) painting practice is grounded in his meditation practice and related metaphysical systems. Solo exhibitions include: De-Rives, Pavillon André Citröen, Paris (2019), Cycle, Rosewood Hotel Gallery, Phnom Penh (2018), and Break the System, Lee Gallery, Paris and Sangker Gallery, Battambang, (both 2017). Group exhibitions include: Shapeshifting: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong (2015); Made in Battambang, French Institute, Phnom Penh (2014), and The Memory Workshop, Maison Français, Columbia University, NYC (2013). He studied visual art at Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang, graduating in 2010, and continued studies at École Pivaut in Nantes, France (2011). Since 2019, Cheanick is based in Nantes.
Than Sok (born 1984, Takeo) investigates religious and spiritual beliefs, materials and rituals through sculpture, installation, video and performance. Sok’s recent solo exhibitions include: Currents, Richard Koh Fine Art, Singapore (2019) and Klah Klok, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2018). Group exhibitions include: A Beast, A God, and A Line, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland; Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; Myanmart, Yangon; and Parasite, Hong Kong (2018); SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia from 1980 to today, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2017); Haunted Thresholds, Spirituality In Contemporary Southeast Asia, Kunstverein Gottingham, Germany (2014); Sights and Sounds: Global Video Art, The Jewish Museum, NYC (2013). Sok has held residencies in Vietnam, USA, and Japan. He studied traditional Khmer forms and practices as well as contemporary art at the Art School of Reyum Institute of Art and Culture in Phnom Penh, graduating in 2007. Sok’s work is collected by the Singapore Art Museum and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. Sok is based in Phnom Penh.
Tith Kanitha (born 1987, Phnom Penh) has a multidisciplinary practice that values intuition as a powerful way of knowing and processing. Her recent solo exhibition was Instinct, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2018) and group exhibitions include: Present Passing: South by Southeast, Osage Art Foundation, Hong Kong (2019); Le paysage après coup, Centre d’art contemporain Faux Mouvement, Metz (2018) SUNSHOWER: Southeast Asian Art from 1980s to Today, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2017); Asia Now, Paris Asian Art Fair (2016), and The Memory Workshop, Columbia University, NYC (2013). Kanitha’s work is collected by Singapore Art Museum and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. She has held residencies in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Myanmar, and the USA. She is currently based in Amsterdam for a residency at Rijksacademie (2019-2021).
Sin Many’s (born 1990, Battambang) practice across media embraces minimalism to reflect on complex environmental and emotional worlds. He is one of a growing number of self-taught artists of his generation in Cambodia. He co-founded the artist collective HOMELESS, which exhibits regularly across the country. Many was awarded a Creative Generation Award leading to his first solo exhibition, Signs, Java Café, Phnom Penh (2018). Group exhibitions include, Personnes and Espace, French Institute; Creative Generation, Futures Factory (both Phnom Penh, 2019); and Being no one and going nowhere, Buoy Arts Center, Tokyo (2018). Many holds a BS, Banking and Finance, University of Battambang. He is based in Phnom Penh.
Suos Sodavy’s (born 1955, Kandal) painting practice spans his influences from two distinct education systems during Cold War transitional periods in Cambodia and Hungary. His solo exhibitions include Suos Sodavy: Four Ways In, Rosewood Hotel Gallery, Phnom Penh (2019) and Walking Markets, Java Café and Gallery, Phnom Penh (2010). Recent group exhibitions include: Thailand Biennale 2018, Krabi (2018) and Robam, Metahouse, Phnom Penh (2016). Sodavy graduated from the International Language School (1986) and Teacher Training College of Nyfreghàza, Hungary (1989). He holds an MFA, Department of Painting, Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary (1994). For the past 25 years, he has been a Professor in the Faculty of Fine Arts, Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, and has held various roles within Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Art. Sodavy is based in Phnom Penh.
Svay Ken (1933, Takeo – 2008, Phnom Penh) is often credited with marking and influencing the transition between “the modern” and “the contemporary” in the context of art in Cambodia, through direct, autobiographical paintings about life lived through seven distinct political regimes. Solo exhibitions include Sharing Knowledge, Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center, Phnom Penh (2008) and Painted Stories: The Life of a Cambodian Family from 1941 to the Present, Reyum Institute of Art and Culture, Phnom Penh (2001). Select group exhibitions include: SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia from 1980s to Today, National Art Center Tokyo (2017); Phnom Penh: Rescue Archaeology, ifa, Berlin and Stuttgart (2013); and 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, QGOMA, Brisbane (2009). His work is in prominent public collections including Singapore Art Museum, National Gallery of Singapore, Queensland Art Gallery, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and more.
Svay Sareth’s (born 1972, Battambang) multidisciplinary practice is rooted in resistance, traversing both present and historical moments. His solo exhibitions include: The Breath of Change, Richard Koh Fine Art, Singapore (2019); Home, Lost and Found, Batia Sarem, Siem Reap (2019); I, Svay Sareth, eat rubber sandals, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2015). Group exhibitions include: Gods, Heroes and Clowns: Performance and Narrative in South and Southeast Asian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Secret Archipelago, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (both 2016); and If The World Changed, 4th Singapore Biennale (2013). In 2016, he won the Prudential Eye Award Best Emerging Artist Using Sculpture and Overall Best Emerging Artist. Sareth is a co-founder of Phare Ponlue Selepak, a non-governmental organization and art school in Battambang. He holds an MFA, L’école Régional Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Caen, France (2009). His work is collected by Singapore Art Museum, National Gallery of Victoria, and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. Sareth is based in Siem Reap.
Yim Maline’s (born 1982, Battambang) meticulous drawings and sculptures reflect on local and global climatic and cultural change. Her recent solo exhibitions include: The Shadow of Change, Richard Koh Fine Art, Singapore (2019); Home, Lost and Found, Batia Sarem, Siem Reap (2019); and Decomposition, University of Wyoming Art Museum (2016). Group exhibitions include: Cambodia: Looking Back on the Future, Finn Gallery, CT (2017); And that which was always known, Yavuz Gallery, Singapore (2015), and Eight Women, French Institute, Phnom Penh (2011). Maline has held residencies in South Africa, Japan, Andorra and the USA. She studied visual arts at Phare Ponleu Selpak art school in Battambang ((1995-2001) and holds a Certificate, Fine Art, École des Beaux-Arts de Beauvais (2003), and a BFA, Fine Art, École Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Caen, France (2010). Maline is based in Siem Reap.