My fourth trip to Cambodia and things seemed to generally improve bit by bit for the population. More money about, more NGO people than you can shake a stick at and a lot more motorbikes and cars. Cambodia still has a slight edge to it that lures many characters both good and evil as well as many planeloads of tourists each day. One slightly evil experience was hearing the karaoke Khmer version of the song Hotel California screamed into a microphone at a restaurant! Equally wrong was the décor and North Korean cultural show at the Pyongyang restaurant; included violin solo, fan dance and dinky electric piano tunes. Phnom Penh as always cooks up some strange entertainment. I guess I added to this by presenting my Antarctic artist talk at Meta-house also my 3rd exhibition at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Phnom Penh(FCCC). Hopefully in some way I helped stimulate the tiny but growing Khmer art world.
MOISTURE was the group title for the body of work displayed at the highly likable FCC bar. I loosely based these paintings on the lifeblood of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Rivers and that necessary element of life. Water. We are mostly made of water. We need it, we are it. Simply put – if it flows enough so do we. Water or moisture I found in the humid air, wet season rain, the sundowner drinks and of course in the Tonle Sap, Bassac and Mekong rivers viewed from bars along Sisowath Quay. By watching, considering and consuming these liquids as well as controlling the moisture of paint I created 35 small works during this stint in Cambodia. Besides the art I was there for the un-western Khmer Buddhist attitude to life and for the tropical climate, which in some ways balances out my time spent in Polar Regions. I live through variable seasons like anyone does but a little more extreme and a lot more unstructured. Luckily the body is very adaptable. This wet season the dengue fever virus invaded many bodies in Phnom Penh, a beast of a bug that can flatten you out for a week or even kill you. Whilst avoiding mosquitos I indulged in a lazy afternoon or two listening to ghekkos bark and watching them hunt large insects under noisy overhead fans.
It is September now so I must be in Hong Kong. A fabulous city that still seems driven by the accumulation of money and little else. It has a cosmopolitan buzz about it, flavoured with roast duck that is rather addictive. My fourth exhibition here FINDING YOURSELF LOST is to be held in John Battens new art space sitting 22 stories high with a fabulous view of HK. From this vantage point perhaps I shall actually find myself lost or at least find something. Hong Kong’s incredible skyline is always a treat to see. At night many of the skyscrapers are adorned with fancy lighting, which is accidentally a massive show of public art. People scamper below these giant metal and concrete sculptures in a horizontal manner as well as vertically in elevators searching for dim sum, friends, money, cigars, love, incense, luck, fun and no doubt a few other bits and pieces to survive life in a city that has everything but clean air. The exhibition opens on 5th Oct and runs until 10th Nov. www.johnbattengallery.com. My travels with Carolina have led us to the Special Administrative Region of Macau. A massive percentage of the cities 3 million inhabitants live off gambling and various forms of tourist “recreation”. We honeymoon here surrounded by massive Casino temples that are so shiny and kitsch it is difficult to decide whether they are sick jokes to accommodate losers or stunning architectural statements. Luckily there are also museums and galleries to visit, plenty of Macanese food to eat and charming colonial relics scattered about the city thanks to Portuguese traders who arrived in China way back in 1510. Saude!!!