Like the flower of the sacred lotus, the common house Gecko is a Asian icon. This tiny pet-like lizard sees and hears all yet remains invisible, a welcome innocuous "fly on the wall", all knowing. Except to camouflage his presence, he remains a constant observer, unchanged, a witness to Cambodia's history where, in the past decade, change has occurred at an alarming pace. With exponential development in transportation, real estate, and communications, the exploding Khmer population now finds itself in company with the developed world's "rat race". With the benefits of this modernity come all the trappings of glaring inequality, greed, conspicuous consumption, drug abuse, corruption. Reflecting this shifting lifestyle, these enlarged skulls of the Gecko become a medium expressing contemporary culture through common materials mined from everyday life in the Kingdom.
When not making art in Cambodia, New York artist William Graef works in his studio in Manhattan' s East Village. He studied engineering at The University of Michigan and holds a fine art degree from Pratt institute. Since 1987, he has exhibited his work in and around New York City and was awarded fellowships at both MacDowell and Franconia and recently has been accepted in the Art In Embassy program where three of his sculptures are currently on display at the residence of the American Ambassador here in Phnom Penh. He has been reviewed in The New York Times and is in the collection of The New-York Historical Society. Graef's work reflects and comments on contemporary life in our fast paced and ever changing world.