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Leang Seckon: Lifting the Weight of Freedom

After his month-long (July 2023)residency and exhibition (Dec. 2023-Jan. 2024)at Akar Prakar Gallery, New Delhi, India, the Cambodian artist reflects on a 24-year career as independent creator.



Seckon's residency in New Delhi, culminating with the first solo exhibition by a Cambodian visual artist in India, reflected his cultural attraction to the Indian sub-continent,as he remarked in a 15 February interview with Ian Tee for Midpoint: "I feel a spiritual connection to India, maybe because my parents used to tell me stories about the Buddha’s life. I would pray to statues of Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma around the village when I was growing up. Our distant ancestors were heavily influenced by Indian traditions and religions, while the new generation of Cambodians are more influenced by Chinese culture. I saw artworks by contemporary Indian artists years ago, and felt they have a strong sense of identity.


Following the artistic thread started with his series Heavy Skirts (2010, Rossi&Rossi, London), Seckon has perfected his favorite medium, collage, stitching and weaving on canvas, using various supports such as buffalo leather, magazine and newspaper clippings, textiles, whatever suits his inspiration. This technique has been applied to his most abstract compositions like Wish for Protection and Old is New.

Photos: Leang Seckon Exhibition at Akar Prakar Gallery, January 2024 (courtesy of the artist).

Seckon had joined the group exhibition Out of Line at Akar Prakar in 2019, and was the recipient of the inaugural ArtVP Residency (with the Khoj International Artists’ Association).

Seckon's Delhi exhibition was firmed up during his August 2023 visit to India along with Marina Pok, Chair of Anicca Foundation, as first international guests of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) ArtVP Residency Transnational Visitors Program.

During that trip, Seckon and Marina met with Dr. Aachal Pandaya and Pratanapand Jha at the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts (IGCNA), Ms. Mamta Bhatt at the Delhi Conservation of Textiles & National Crafts Museum, Lalit Kala at The Academy of Art, and historian and museologist Kirti Ji in Jaipur, Rajasthan, as well as Ms. Neha Sharma, textile curator at Jaipur Albert Hall Museum who helped Seckon with buying natural pigments at the Jaipur market. The artist is currently testing these colors in his new artwork.


Slideshow August 2023 visit.Photo 1: Leang Seckon and Pok Marina with Kirti Ji in Jaipur; 2,3 : Presentations at IGCNA; 4: Presenting ICCR representatives with "The First Royal Apsara", Julio Jeldres's biography of HRH Princess Norodom Buppha Devi (2022).

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