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Artwork explores views on society and traffic

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The relationship between Phnom Penh residents and the everyday traffic

that affects their lives is explored in artwork by artist Leang Seckon

Tracey Shelton

Artist Leang Seckon holds up one of his traffic pieces, which are on display at the French Cultural Centre.

A NEW exhibit opening at the French

Cultural Centre on Saturday will include works by painter and graphic

designer Leang Seckon, whose art takes an unconventional look at

Cambodian society.

Some of the artist's most interesting works focus on the relationship

between Phnom Penh's residents and the maelstrom of traffic through

which their lives move each day.

"I focus on traffic because we have so many accidents, and almost no one respects the laws," he explained.

In one collage, a police officer atop a motorcycle helmet waves drivers

to the side of the road. A squashed frog lies ominously in the

foreground as a painted monk blesses it.

"I wanted to show that Cambodian people react in traffic according to

their mindset, which has been influenced by the past violence in our

history," he said.

"I created this picture after a visit to Kieng Svay resort. I saw a

dead frog and was sad because someone had killed it and nobody cared.

It is a reflection on the difference between the rich and poor. The

monk blesses the frog, and the rich man stays in his car and ignores

it."

Leang Seckon said he tries to convey meaning indirectly in his works.

The policeman in the picture tries to stop motorists, who do everything they can to evade him.

"Our people are afraid of the police, who always try to get money from

them. So they turn back and try to find another way around," he said.

Leang Seckon avoids overtly political themes in his work. "What I do is

not related to politics. I explore social themes, and I don't care

whether people understand them or not."

Red light, green light

Another of his works depicts a young Cambodian boy and girl

circumscribed by 12 animals. Superimposed are traffic lights - three

green, one red and one yellow.

"People in Cambodia don't wait for the green light. They cross whenever

they want to, even if it is dangerous and could result in an accident,"

he said.

"I'm not trying to teach people directly. I want to present things in

my art and let them discover for themselves. Art can hide many meanings

inside it."

The exhibit, which runs through October 12 at the French Cultural Centre, will also feature works by artist Daniel Perrier.

Also connected to the exhibit is an installation by French artist

Georges Rousse, who will exhibit his work in the front of the National

Museum on Saturday.

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