The breaking news is that the Arts Lounge at Hotel de la Paix, where funkiness has always overruled formality, is now mandating “formal attire” for the launch of its new exhibition, Desire, tomorrow evening.
Furthermore, the funky tunes normally favoured at an Arts Lounge festivity have been sidelined in favour of arias to be performed by Sethisak Khuon who, among many achievements, is laureate winner of both the third prize and the award prize for the best Russian song at the Fourth Voice Competition, Bella Voce, held in 1996 in Moscow.
All this class has been mustered to launch what the Arts Lounge obviously considers to be one of its classier exhibitions: a collection of a dozen abstracts themed “Desire” by French-Cambodian artist Phoussera Ing, better known as Sera.
Originally, Hotel de la Paix announced that the artist in question was Texte Desera, as duly reported by 7Days on March 19.
But the wrong-name-game was due to a lost-in-translation mix-up in communiqués between Siem Reap and Sera’s home base in Paris.
Having cleared that up, and having revised invitations and press releases, Don Protasio, the Arts Lounge’s curator, said he elected to exhibit new work by Sera “because he hasn’t really been exhibited in Cambodia, and his work is challenging for Cambodians to see”.
Protasio says Sera’s work in this showing is “abstract impressionism with a different flavour”.
A press release says, in part, “Recalling the ‘all over’ look of Pollock’s drip paintings, Sera’s new works are composed of ink, pastel and acrylic on canvas and paper.”
Sera is quite a fascinating character and is known mostly for his serious comic book art.
In 1995 he created his seminal comic book, Impasse et Rouge, about the destiny of the child-soldier Snoul during the Cambodian war. This, in addition to his other work that draws on the Khmer Rouge genocide is, according to comic book critics, recounted with the same intensity as that used Art Spiegelman, when referring to Maus: A Survivor's Tale – the Pulitzer Prize-winning articulation of the holocaust as experienced by his Jewish father.
Sera is, of course, also influenced by the tragic story of his father. He was born in Phnom Penh to a French mother and Cambodian father in 1961. In 1975, when the city fell to the Khmer Rouge, 13-year-old Sera fled to France and never saw his father again.
Nowadays, when the Sorbonne graduate isn’t drawing comic books or painting his abstracts, he’s busy teaching art at his alma-mater, the Sorbonne. His last solo exhibition was at the East-by-East gallery in Paris in 2008.
Unfortunately Sera will not be in attendance at the Siem Reap launch, which kicks off tomorrow night, April 10, at 6:30pm.