Friday, 22 February 2013

"Too real to invoke (the past)"

"Too real to invoke (the past)"

Regarding Reahu's controversial works
of female mythological beings in Khmer Mythology

Well, for a reminder: to those who are sensitive to read this writeup, you may not dare to look at the pictures rather than complaining it. This writeup at first tend to analyze the controversial works made by a Cambodian artist known as Reahu. His works made controversial due to the depiction of female mythological beings as too sensuous resulting to his page nearly banned years ago by the Cambodian government. 

And prior to making this writeup, this writer was researching regarding old edifices, as well as heritage and modernity that resulted to what was lately been posted today. But during his research work involving heritage, he recalled a link regarding paintings that bear ancient beings yet done in a modern manner such as been posted below.

Obviously, people would dare to call it immoral because of the depictions of Khmer mythological beings such as bare breasted and sensuous despite partly basing from old sculptures such as those in Angkor wat centuries ago with the painter trying to make a realistic version that somehow made the conservative tend to oppose especially because of its sensuous nature as well as tradition.

That somehow this writer described as strange in seeing those paintings, and somehow the painter made it too real, actual to invoke especially that is ancient such as mythological beings such as those Apsaras. Yes, some are based directly from sculptures centuries ago- with some are indeed shown bare breasted and made the artist painted too real making the people opted to oppose, describe as pornographic and contradictory to tradition.

Such as this picture of a painting based from Suvannamaccha and Hanuman (above). Reahu's work made it look real especially for a mythological being compare to a traditional one such as this:

The one made in Thailand would say that the mermaid is also bare breasted yet the painting was done quite in a traditional manner although some tend to make the mermaid had its breasts be covered with her hair such as this:

The version above would say it is also realistic enough especially in the depiction of the mermaid although its breasts had been covered by her hair. Reahu somehow did quite much too real in another version, as well as  sensuous after making the mermaid bare breasted, with a human-like than a mythological appearance as it meets with Hanuman. Perhaps, to the painter's view it tries to convey an exotic beauty such as a maiden of the tropic for an Apsara or any other mythological being Reahu had tend to interpret it quite controversially. 

Well, as a writer who had sought those paintings before would say that yes, it is too realistic and perhaps technical to show something direct from the past especially due to the depiction of woman having curvacious features such as those of her breasts, and therefore be deemed as "sensuous" if not "pornographic" because of its features being shown. 

But then on the other hand, it somehow tends to show a realistic interpretation of those mythological icons such as the Apsara and making it based wholly from the murals found in every ancient Khmer temple with some had bare breasts shown in it.

Quite strange though all after seeing those works made by Reahu and being featured online resorted to an ire coming from most Cambodians just because it is bare breasted or having a "sexy" depiction. Yes, most Cambodians are conservative to justify criticism regarding those works only for a painter countering it defiantly.

As one of his supporters said:

Perhaps few tend to deeply understood art such as those controversial works in a way some conservatives in the west assailed a statue of justice with a bare breast or Michaelangelo's David full nude. Reahu, in making those realistic versions of mythological beings would say he tends to make it par to those made during the Renaissance or the Romantic period that some had also depict a degree of nakedness yet it conveys a deeper message such as youth, virility, womanhood and strength. 

Yes, it tends to reveal the beauty of the Khmer women although he made it "too far" to the extent of describing it as "sensuous" and "pornographic" in the eyes of others. Perhaps, in making it in par with those from the west would say he wanted to romanticize the past the way Jacques David did. 

However, not all works made by Reahu are limited to those of the beauty of a Khmer maiden. He also painted scenes from Ramayana, especially those of Hanuman in a muscular posture. And contrary to traditional depictions of these scenes again would say it invokes romanticism such as Hanuman in an avenging mood against one of the villains in Ramayana. 

Quite strange indeed, but then as it invokes the past in a different way, Reahu wanted to make it deeper no matter the reaction people would be if been sought. Yes, covers coming from movies or computer games as well as classical paintings may hath influenced Reahu to do those kind of works focusing on Khmer culture such as mythology. Invoking the past through artworks may depend on which painter may have to do so as long as it imbues the spirit that is "ContemporAntiquitarian."

Perhaps, in an assessment, this writer would say that despite its controversial nature, Reahu tends to make it romanticized the way Jacques David and others in their works, also borrowed from mythological figures and hence making it quite realistic in its appearance. Reahu also wanted to invoke the past as he could through painting the way Van Molyvann tried to through architecture.
Obviously, due to the conservative nature of the people in Cambodia would say that his works will remain "pornographic" and "controversial" in their eyes while few ought to understand it deeper behind what hath been shown and Reahu didn't made it "for sake". 

In other words, there's a need to study and appreciate art further and better.


Again, thanks to Miah Llanes for some moral support (even in spirit for she guides me).