Most people, superstitious or not have at some stage glanced through the sign predictions at the back of the magazine or newspaper to see what the year has in store for them. Admit it or not?
Cambodian Signs as Oeur Sokuntevy (Tevy) points out are a very large part of Cambodian Society. Business, love, marriages, poverty, fidelity, childbirth and travel for example, all of the important things in ones life, are often stopped in their tracks if the signs are not favorable. Some people believe, some don’t believe, and this can change the course of ones life for better or for worse.
Tevy's sculptures might provoke strong reactions. Her works are unique and very distinctive three dimensional sculptures with a great melding of textures, media and cultural references which evoke both traditional belief and the spirit world. Tevy has devised the 12 animals of the Cambodian Signs with a somewhat surrealist aspect to them often giving the impression of a hybrid of man and beast.
Her work made from rattan, coffee, handmade paper, paint and an array of other materials convey a very visceral and fantastical appearance. “Cambodia”, she says”, is developing but still in a kind of derelict state” , Tevy’s work demonstrates this in the colors and materials she uses.
The seed of Oeur Sokuntevy's idea for "Something in the Signs" her second exhibition at Java Café & Gallery in the past two years came to her simply by reading books and talking to the Cambodian people, finding out what was important to them. "This subject is something that is very prominent in the lives of Cambodian people so I wanted to explore that and show peoples my version of the signs."
Tevy, a very modern girl, doesn’t go for any highfaluting conceptual theories when it comes to her art, it is instinctive, and “I like to keep it simple and experiment. These sculptures basically come from me playing around with different materials creating artworks through trial and error." What might we create if there were no rules?
The year is the year of the Rat, Tevy’s year is the Pig….. . .Quick, where's the fortune teller??
Ali Sanderson, Curator
Oeur Sokuntevy lives and works in Phnom Penh. She studied painting at the Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang and moved to Phnom Penh in 2007 to follow her chosen career path. Tevy has had much interest in her work as one of the very few female contemporary artists currently showing in Cambodia. Recent solo exhibitions include “Wishes from my Past” at Meta House Gallery in 2007, “Free and Easy” , Salt Lounge, 2007 and “ Ancient Spirits (Reborn)” , Java Café and Gallery, 2006-07. Group exhibitions include, “ The Art of Survival” , Meta House Gallery, 2008 to name a few. Tevy’s work is included in art collections including Singapore Art gallery. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers including Art Asia Pacific, Asialife, Cambodge Soir, Phnom Penh Post and The Cambodia Daily.
Ali Sanderson is a contemporary artist based between Phnom Penh and Melbourne, Australia.