Continuing her exploration of subconscious and dream imagery, Oeur Sokuntevy exhibits a new series of paintings that playfully investigate personal secrets. Shifting away from personal story-telling, social and gender commentary move to the forefront of this series of twelve paintings featuring scenes and portraits of fictionalized characters. Through satirical gestures—the shift of the eye, hand signals, a “shushing” finger—we know there is more going on below the surface.
Throughout the series, Oeur explores feminine iconography and represents them in exaggerated forms. A women’s body becomes a defining part of her identity, with breasts exposed and featured. While textiles, like traditional sarongs, are depicted with intricate details and spread across the canvases in liquid folds. A flower, whether a tattoo, or part of a child’s shirt, is enlarged and amplified to the point of becoming a character in scene. The ever-present flower takes on a different manifestation in every piece, and accordingly determines the title.
The characters that appear on the canvases are often hidden or distorted, remaining anonymous while their secrets are alluded to through coded imagery. The characters are drawn from pop media, personal histories and anecdotal research and imitate the social strata of a rapidly evolving contemporary culture. In one painting a family is seen on a picnic in the countryside dressed in Western clothing with the father drinking whiskey and smoking a cigar—all symbols of a “rich lifestyle.” While in another, two figures stand in a doorway of a wooden, country home, dressed in traditional textiles with parts of their body forming the clothing and their feet “melting” to a magnolia blossom below.
Despite the many social and economic backgrounds represented, they are unified by a common thread of “desire.” Although it is secreted away, desire asserts itself as part of the human condition—a universal experience—playing a role in each individual narrative.