SĒRA: In Other Territories

[caution, amateur translation! Click for original French Announcement]
sera images

original comics pages
digital images,
paintings, sculptures

From February 5 to March 31, 2006

Special viewing Tuesday, February 21, 2006, 6:30 p.m.

EN D’AUTRES TERRITOIRES (IN OTHER TERRITORIES) is an exhibition where, for the first time in Paris, art lovers can delve into the world and creations of Séra, a talented artist specializing in both visual and graphic arts. This is an opportunity for you to discover a collection of his work that includes a variety of original comics pages, digital images, as well as paintings and sculptures.

Séra is the pen name for artist Phousséra Ing, born in Phnom Penh to a French mother and Cambodian father. Like so many of his fellow countrymen, he had to leave behind his childhood in his native Cambodia. He was only ten years old when the civil war broke out. After the Khmer Rouge seized power and Phnom Penh fell in April 1975, his father was forced to surrender to the Khmer Rouge, while the rest of his family was expelled from the country after taking refuge at the French embassy. The estimated population of Cambodia was six million at the time, and the genocide that spanned four years took some two million victims in its wake.

When Phnom Penh fell, Séra was a helpless bystander. But at the commemoration of the event in 2005, he was an accomplished artist sharing in it as a part of its living memory. He had been invited by the French Cultural Center to present his work in the form of an extensive touring exhibition traveling from Phnom Penh to Angkor.

2005 was a significant year for Séra, and included the release of three comic books: Rita Hayworth (Éd. Nocturne), L’eau et la terre (Éd. Delcourt) and Secteur 7 (Éd. Glénat). These productions rank Séra as one of the most outstanding comic artists of his generation. His approach to graphics incorporates modern and traditional elements, and results in one of the most original current styles.

Although comics have been his preferred medium of expression since childhood, the three-dimensional arts have enabled Séra to find his own language, one in which he can both express and sublimate the secret wounds in his memory. Séra was still young when he made his début in the three-dimensional arts, at a phase when he was fighting with both his memory and his medium. To appropriate the space of the canvas, with which he was unfamiliar at the time, he would apply to it components from the real world: scrap wood, pieces of cloth, fragments of machine tools, and the like. As the years went by, he stopped using such external inputs in his paintings. In his more recent canvasses, he relies upon a juxtaposition of medium effects to translate the reality of the most diverse of materials.

Séra has also designed some life-sized sculptures, which are a studied blend of precariousness and balance, reflecting the uncertainty of a man split between different backgrounds—chaos, nature and culture. During his apprenticeship, Séra became taken up with wood carving and metal plate engraving (intalgio), and these now dominate his output and continue to influence his approach to drawing techniques.

With regard to his comics work, Séra has reinvested the experience he acquired in the three-dimensional arts. The result is that each of his images is of a complexity and aesthetic quality rarely found in the ‘ninth art’. Since the late 1990s Séra has successfully worked with computer-aided production (CAP) to combine medium effects, photography and drawing techniques. The addition of photographic documents enables him to more firmly root his fictitious creations in reality.

After looking at his work from a distance, Séra decided to concentrate on depicting the events that had caused so much disruption in his life and his homeland, and he has dedicated two albums to a subject hitherto unapproached in the world of comics —the Cambodian tragedy.

Impasse et rouge and L’Eau et la terre have enabled him to come to grips with the trauma he felt from being brutally wrenched away from Cambodia and to give substance to a genocide that is poorly understood. On the occasion of the republication of Impasse et rouge he wrote: “In 1978, my father was killed by the Khmer Rouge. I put this book together in order to pay tribute to all those that I was forced to leave behind… in memory of this city, Phnom Penh, where I grew up and in which I so enjoyed running about in my sandals, keen to sense all the odors, catch all of its vibrations… in memory of all these events that continue to haunt us, we who are here today, hoping and believing. Even now, I am still looking for answers… in expectation of a little justice…”

Over the years, Séra has come up with a dense, complex visual universe that is a mixture of both painting and graphic arts. What is so special about this well rounded artist is his long artistic career and the sheer diversity of areas that he has dealt with. This exhibition is therefore an opportunity to discover the coherent, transparent work of an artist originating from a country referred to as the ‘land of the smile’.

- Comments by Éric Joly, exhibition curator.

for the occasion of “EN D’AUTRES TERRITOIRES / IN OTHER TERRITORIES” exhibition, Séra will edit a special issue of PLG Magazine dedicated to Cambodian artists and the situation of comics art in Cambodia.

The Institute of Higher Arts Studies was chosen by PromoMetro, subsidiary of the RATP commercial managing company, to launch and animate the first commercial space dedicated to contemporary art in the metro.

1st Station, the first place of this type, is located in the 1st arrondissement (district) of Paris, on Line 1, in the 1900 gallery on the Palais Royal – Museum of the Louvre subway stop, a magical place that many professionals of the cultural world have resigned themselves to not see abandoned. Original works and products derived from contemporary pieces are sold there at accessible prices, making it possible for a large audience to enter the circle of the amateurs and collectors of contemporary art. Decorative arts and visual arts, fashion and design, photography and paintings, installations and video, garden art or living art, all contemporary creations can descend the subway stairs and be invited without a ticket to meet the public.

Reasonable prices that allow an immediate purchase, national and international programming mixing with all types of contemporary art works, a study on the mediation of artists and works near an often pressed public, 1st Station wants to become a place of the quarter, in the heart of the 1st district, a place of contemporary art discovery, a first stop as much for select young artists as for less known cultures of the French public, and also a first stop for new collectors who with the rotation of a turnstile could be confronted with creations that they wish to acquire.

An exhibit under the direction of:
Olga Varshavskaya, head of 1st Station
Eric Joly, chief of the exhibition
L. Chaumont, M. Guyot, C. Vasselin, D. Bosse, E. Beauxis-Aussalet, N. Poureyron, R. Furtak, S. De Magalhaes, students of the Institute of Higher Arts Studies, assistants to the project

Thanks to
Francoise Schmitt, director of the
Institute of Higher Arts Studies
Boris Grebille, Pierre-Edouard Schmitt

Contemporary Art Space
Concept of the Institute of Higher Arts Studies
Metro: Palais-Royal – Musee du Louvre
Entrance at the foot of Louvre of Antiques
9 am – 8pm … Weekend 10 am – 7 pm

Link: Sera_Exposition_PDF

Tags: comics,cambodia

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