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"Love / Peace", a soft-ground etching made in 2013
"Love / Peace", a soft-ground etching made in 2013. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Going back over years of ‘creative destruction’

Print and textile artist Marine Ky has drawn from almost 20 years of work for a diverse retrospective to open this week at Meta House

Out the back of Street 240 picture framers Le Lézard Bleu this week, print and textile artist Marine Ky sorted through some of the work selected for her retrospective exhibition, "Optical Screens and the Earth", opening on Thursday at Meta House.

Already behind glass were a series of gloves – inspired by Cambodia’s mystical yantra tattoos – printed with silver hearts and intricate textile patterns. Also already done was one of Ky’s earliest pieces – a fragmented, printed self-portrait with floral lace instead of eyes. Upstairs, yet to be framed, were large paper sheets stencilled with circles and textile patterns in psychedelic colours juxtaposed with enlarged lace patterns.

While her materials and techniques are diverse, Ky said her work was united by a desire to recontextualise the normal – to make the everyday special.

“Like a piece of lace: when you do it as a print presented as an art work, you look at in a different way,” she said.

Marine Ky’s works "Holding Protections" and "Sending Metta I".
Marine Ky’s works "Holding Protections" and "Sending Metta I". PHOTO SUPPLIED

Born in Phnom Penh in 1966, Ky’s family moved to Paris in 1976. She studied print making in Australia and has exhibited solo and in groups there, in Japan and Europe, and around Southeast Asia. She long lived a semi-nomadic existence, with stints as an artist-in-residence in Thailand, Australia and Japan, but recently moved to Battambang.

An accomplished and respected artist, the new exhibition – co-curated by Java Arts founder Dana Langlois – draws on almost 20 years of her work, and each series has its own themes, ideas and techniques.

“The common element is the materiality of the works, so they’re all related to fabrics or use a fabric imprint as a starting point,” Ky said.

She added that her artistic process – whether taking an impression with wax or using it as a stencil – inevitably damaged the source fabric.

“It’s creative destruction,” she said. “In the destruction, the pattern takes on a new life.”

Ky said she enjoyed going back and selecting the pieces for Optical Screens and the Earth. “Organising this retrospective of my work feels like opening up a compression of multiple time capsules,” she said.

“In the selection process, it has been rewarding and revealing to go back across time to see how the work and life have evolved, from the outward to an inward journey, and to a true heartfelt return to Cambodia.”

Optical Screens and the Earth opens 7pm on Thursday, June 4, at Meta House, #37 Sothearos Boulevard, and runs until June 28. A conversation with the artist and curator will be held at 4pm on Saturday, June 6, in the gallery.

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