Under The Tree: New Works by Thang Sothea
Cambodian artist Thang Sothea's latest creations are currently on exhibition at the French Institute until 24 July, 2018. For this collection of work Sothea has used natural materials to create forms that reflect nature and our inherent relationship to it.
As I made my way through the exhibition, I was met with a pang of nostalgia. Conjured somewhere between the rain-like shadows cast on the floor below, and the subtle glimmer of fine copper edges in the air above, were distinct memories of the school-yard sight of thin, flat, wing-like seeds fluttering down from the treetops in a rapid, circular motion. They resembled helicopter rotors as they swished through the air, so this is what we (school children, growing up in Barbados) would call them... "helicopters". My friends and I would pick them up at recess and drop them to the ground repeatedly, just to recreate the spectacle. So wonderfully sentimental and surprising was this sudden recollection on seeing Sothea's work. I hope other visitors to this exhibition recall their own memories of engaging with nature in similarly joyful and child-like ways.
This collection of work is not the first time Sothea has drawn on his expertise in spatial design as a trained architect to create impressively dynamic and playful installations that explore space, volume, light and shadow - simultaneously pricking an audience's awareness of both surroundings, and of self. You can read more about Sothea as an architect/artist on our previous blog post. We are big fans of his work and this new exhibition does not disappoint. Do visit the French Institute to see "Under The Trees" before the 24th July (these photos are no substitute for first-hand experience!)
Statues from Sothea's previous collection, "Devata" stand at the entrance.
Also on display in the garden of the French Institute is Sothea's installation titled "The Forest": structures, or giant "leaves" as Sothea refers to them, made of thousands of recycled aluminum cans hang from the branches of the garden trees. Sothea's objective in creating these large mobiles was to take ordinary objects (beer and soda cans) and transform them into works of art. When the "leaves" catch the wind they make a gentle chime-like sound, while light dances off their multi-coloured surfaces causing them to appear bejewelled. The garden at the French Institute is a lovely, calming place to visit, with plenty of tree cover and places to sit.
Visit "Under The Tree" at The French Institute of Cambodia
Where: no. 218 st.184 , Phnom Penh T: +855 023 985 611 / 612
When: Until 24 July 2018
Cover image via Thang Sothea