Meas Sokhorn at the Chinese House.
MEAS Sokhorn loves to smoke. He sits on the floor of the airy gallery at The Chinese House, fingering his lighter and packet and contemplating the sleek rattan structures suspended from the ceiling as they turn and shift in the breeze.
"I always smoke when I am in a bad mood, and it makes me feel happy," he said. "I breath in and out and watch the shapes of the smoke, and its like a cool wind coming through me and making me calm and relaxed."
The movement he describes is the title of his latest exhibition, "Exhale", a series of large sculptures crafted from wire and leaves, based on the shifting smoke forms produced by the artist's regular nicotine meditations.
"The inspiration for [the works] came from the movement of cigarettes," said Meas Sokhorn. "Every time I have a cigarette, I watch the smoke curl and intermingle, and think the smooth shapes flow like a dream."
"All the forms are symbolic of the movement of the smoke. It's something that you can't catch, and it does not belong to you," he added.
Like cigarette smoke and the sense of transformation that it generates in Mea Sokhorn, his creations also twist and alter in their appearance.
"It's like a kind of metamorphosis, the feeling and the way the smoke shapes change into something new," he said.
Yet the sculptures, one of which was nominated for the Singapore Art Prize in 2008, are also symbolic of intangible personal experiences.
"Memories and experiences come to me when I'm smoking, like love and the moments you connected with, the sensations of happiness you had, the opportunities you let pass," he said. "Like trying to catch smoke or squeeze mud in your hands, these things, even if they might be the best thing that you ever had, are not solid. In this way, [the exhibition] is very personal."
Meas Sokhorn's pursuit of these transient forms and experiences has produced an organic and evolving body of work.
"I love nature and rustic materials, and I just started forming the straws into organic shapes and seeing where the lines went," he said. "I did not prepare, but just followed the lead of the lines. Just like going somewhere on a trip when you have forgotten the map."
"Exhale", a project of JavaArts, opens at The Chinese House at 6:30pm today and runs through May 24.