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Continuing a quest to explore the self

In paintings such as Rose Cigarette, Heng Ravuth has abandoned physical collage. Photo supplied
In paintings such as Rose Cigarette, Heng Ravuth has abandoned physical collage. Photo supplied

Continuing a quest to explore the self

A little more than a year after his last exhibit, Cambodian artist Heng Ravuth is back with a new show at Java Café and Gallery. While still using his naked self as the subject, instead of creating actual collages with photographic fragments on canvases, he has begun to give the impression of collage through brushwork only.

“Now I just do the collage in Photoshop [first], and then use only acrylic paint on the canvas,” said Ravuth, 31. “I wanted to do something interesting and challenge myself to get better and better . . . to use more colour and more detail, and to make it technically as creative as I can.”

Ravuth added that moving away from including physical photographs in the artworks gave him the freedom to create his own distorted reality that he describes as “twisted and offbeat”. It also made his work more contemporary, he said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Artist Heng Ravuth paints nude self-portraits. Athena Zelandonii

The nine pieces in the current exhibit, titled Drunk Nude, show Ravuth in a variety of scenarios – from lounging solo to multiple impressions of him amid tyres or while attending a picnic. He starts with photographs of himself, then adds snippets from other images and “collides them together” on his computer before recreating the final product with paint on canvas.

Skin-toned hues mixed with vivid colours and white tones to represent the rips of piecing together multiple elements achieve a layered look in the paintings.

The show’s title is a reference to Ravuth’s obsession with his desire to explore who he is as an individual and an artist through his ongoing nude self-portraits. His previous two exhibits, Innermost (I) and Innermost (II), also were self-nudes.

“It’s like an alcoholic or a drug user. When you’re obsessed with something, you do it every day. It’s a habit,” he said.

Drunk Nude will be on display at the Java Café and Gallery, #56 Sihanouk Boulevard, from July 27 through September 30. The opening reception is July 27 at 6:30pm.

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