Friday, May 15, 2009


Angkor Design
Graphite and digital

Below are a few photos I shot while in Cambodia

Bayon Temple, Detail

Temple in the Jungle

Cambodian Child

Cambodia is a country with a rich history and culture. Human settlements in Cambodia date back as far as the reach of memory, record , or tradition. The traces of the first organized civilizations date back to third millennium B.C  to a time when a Neolithic culture had already begun to create a  considerable amount of lithic productions, pottery and bronze ware. 

Over time these early craftsman built some of the most impressive Temples in the world, that have been come to be known by many as Angkor Wat(Although  Angkor Wat is only the name of a single temple within many).

Cambodian culture has been faced with many challenges in the ancient world and certainly in the modern world of today. Because Cambodia was rich with resources it was a region of desire and fell under attacks by the Siamese. In 1594 the Siamese Army sacked Angkor an event that many feel later lead to the colonization of Cambodia by the French in 1863. Overtime Cambodia went on to gain its Independence. In the mid 1950's the monarch Prince Sihanouk ,prided himself that Cambodia remained neutral no longer under the rule of the French. 

This time was short lived as Cambodia was later dragged into the Vietnam War in the 1960's.  President Nixon's sloppy bombing campaign along the border of North Vietnam and Cambodia  forced the communists further into Cambodia. The communists that stabilized deep within Cambodia lead to the formation of the Khmer Rouge, a guerrilla group that was able to take over the country. While the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia they tried to create what they called a new Cambodia, a Communist Utopia. Creating their twisted vision of a Communist Utopia involved stealing children from their homes, depriving them of education and contact with their families. There was a declaration that the ancient history of this wonderful country was now dead, to be forgotten. Without mercy they ripped people from their homes, stole their possessions , and killed anyone that fought back. Killing became wide spread ,the educated were killed, the elderly were killed, and monks were killed . Taking someones life was as easy as scratching an itch for that of the Khmer Rouge. These ruthless barbarians are responsible for the widespread Cambodian Genocide in which  resulted in over 1.7 million deaths(the movie Killing Fields is based upon this).

Luckily Vietnamese forces in 1979 ousted the Khmer Rouge, but not soon enough. The Khmer Rouge did not value the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, in fact they viewed their victory over the country to be of greater importance. They destroyed many of the early Cambodian religious icons,  removed stones from the temples to build prisons, eating halls, and stoves. They destroyed libraries, and schools, which resulted in a loss of over 80 percent of written works in the original Khmer language.  The list goes on and on about how much of a beautiful culture was lost and destroyed by the Khmer Rouges occupation of Cambodia.

Since these difficult times there has been a lot of effort in order to reconstruct the temples and Cambodia as a whole. Although Cambodia has been slow to recover from the genocide, which wiped out a generation of leaders, intellectuals and teachers.

Recently I traveled to visit Cambodia and the temples of Angkor Wat, and my final thesis painting is a response to that Journey. There are a lot of feelings and ideas whirling in my mind and my heart about this amazing place and I hope that I am able to convey some of that in the piece. For now I am showing the color comp for the painting which was done in adobe photoshop.
The finished painting will be another 24x48 inch acrylic on masonite panel.

Cambodia , Color Comp, Adobe Photoshop

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