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.

about the artist

Sokuntevy Oeur

Sokuntevy Oeur

Sokuntevy Oeur (b. 1983) is a female painter from Cambodia who is boldly leading the charge of the country’s emerging women’s art movement. At the forefront of her practice is an impassioned personal search to determine where, as an independent woman and artist, she can identify herself within contemporary Cambodian society and the natural world. Sokuntevy studied painting at the Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang and moved to Phnom Penh in 2007. Sokuntevy has had much interest in her work as one of the few female contemporary artists currently showing from Cambodia. Solo exhibitions include Love, Death and Dreams at Utterly Art (Singapore), Love to Death at the French Cultural Centre, I Curl in Memory’s Belly at Java Gallery in 2010, and Star Signs at Hotel De La Paix in 2008 (Cambodia). Group exhibitions include Me Love you Long Time at Boston Center for the Arts, 2013 (USA), Sightlines at Noel-Baza Fine Art Gallery, 2010 (USA), Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale (Korea) in 2009, and The Art of Survival, Meta House Gallery, 2008 (Cambodia). Sokuntevy’s work is included in private and public art collections including the Singapore Embassy (Cambodia) and the Singapore Art Museum.