statement

Distant Geography looks at the work of Cambodian Diaspora artist Chath pierSath, bringing together his collages and writings, exploring language and his unique visual vocabulary as forms of storytelling, history-making and investigation of self. Autobiographical, and often intimate, writings are found on the backs of collages layered with magazine and newspaper cutouts, paintings and drawings. In many of the writings, pierSath talks to his family, to Cambodia, to warmongers and their victims as if writing them a letter or a diary entry, which is part of the construction of a more complex image. Like his collages, the words are written, re-written, painted over and layered with prose and imagery, creating works that exist at the intersection of literature and painting.

In the “reading room” an installation the artist’s trilogy is displayed.  The trilogy, a work in progress, is a series of books titled: Book of Love, Book of Names and Book of Numbers which are formatted as diaries and filled with collages, paintings and writings.  The trilogy of books have been reproduced to be handled and viewed by the public, while selected images have been enlarged for wall display. The trilogy is part of pierSath’s on-going process of recounting and attempting to account for losses during the war and the years of personal upheaval that followed.  In the Book of Names and the Book of Numbers, he identifies victims of war and applies his artistic methodology that re-claims, re-orders and re-writes history. In the Book of Love, he explores the emotional violence of intimate relationships with same boldness and process.

The act of displaying such private forms of writing like letters and diaries, is a provocative gesture in a country where emotions are often hidden or carefully coded in daily interactions. pierSath’s process of collage and assembly has been described as performance, a reorganizing of chaos.  Like many collage artists before him, the meaning of the work is not in the individual marks but in the larger work that is created by the combination of the materials, the content and how they relate to each other.  It is an act of re-ordering and in this context one of assertion that the individual is valid and important.

about the artist

Chath pierSath

Chath pierSath (b.1970 Battambang, Cambodia) is a poet and contemporary artist. Chath’s early work described his personal search to connect with the suffering of others in order to understand his own and to reconnect with the people that he lost as a child of war. Similarly, in his work with orphans and people affected by HIV and AIDS, Chath utilized art as a vehicle to help others and find a path for himself toward healing. His early work consisted of small intimate portraits of characters from his own life, often with large eyes, tattered hope, broken by poverty and suffering. These simple portraits comprise a spontaneous diary, almost a stream of consciousness, reflecting his own naïve, obsessive and immediate need to tell his story in painting and drawing. His later works consist of collage, mixed media, using glue and found materials, wood blocks, newspapers, magazines, cardboard boxes and tiles. For these works he cuts and tears images, combining them with paint, building up layered images that reflect his present search for meaning and purpose in the very unsettled social, economic and political environment of Cambodia, where he lives and works six months of the year. During the other six months, he lives and works on a farm in the United States, his adopted country, where he began his life as an artist piecing together memories and narratives.

Chath’s art works have been shown at the Rhode Island Foundation Gallery (2003), the Whistler’s Museum of Lowell MA (2003), the Queen’s Gallery in Bangkok (2004), Kunming, China (2007) and H Gallery Project Space (2014). He is represented in Cambodia by JavaArts.

ALL collages are priced at 250usd, without frame, and 275usd, with frame. For inquiries, please contact: Dana Langlois, dana@javaarts.org, +855 12 894 180 or inform one of the Java staff.