Art / ExhibitionsCulture

Lao Artist Displays Installations, Inspiration In Singapore

Source: Vientiane Times

Paul Phothyzan now knows that he loves to inspire people with art after hosting plenty of exhibitions for several years now, promoting Lao art and culture.

He considers himself first and foremost an artist who has created a substantial body of work since first becoming interested in the arts in 1997 and 1998.

After graduating with a Bachelor degree in painting from the National Institute of Fine Arts in 2007, he continued his education with a Master’s degree in Visual Arts from Mahasakham University in Thailand in 2011, aiming to improve his knowledge and technical abilities.

He was selected for two solo exhibitions showcasing his art at Champa Muanglao in the French Language Centre in 2004 and at Mask Gallery in 2015, both in Vientiane.

After his first solo exhibition he joined a number of group exhibitions both in Laos and in neighbouring countries, namely the Asian International Art Exhibition in Bangkok, the Singapore Biennale in Singapore in 2013, the Fukuoka Tiennale Japan and Milan Art and Design Exhibition in Singapore in 2014, the Remembrance Reimagining  Asean + Korea Exhibition in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2015, the Gongju International Art Festival in South Korea, and the Art Exchange Exhibition with Laos, Thai, Belgium, Vietnam and Korea held in Vientiane in 2016.

Paul says he now has a better grasp of his art and “where it lives in the world” than when he first started out, adding that there are many forms that can relay our ideas to an audience.

Lao Artist Displays Installations, Inspiration In Singapore

He said drawings and paintings can only transform some of the ideas and feelings we have but after researching more deeply, he says the frame that he paints and draws within becomes much smaller and narrower.

In his ongoing quest to perfect his art, Paul said he finally decided to go out of the frame by looking into the field of installation and land art.

He started experimenting with his new form in 2007 and has continued to develop his pieces with an eye on creating a “new trend of exhibitions for the Lao public”.

After touring some of his installations and land art around the region, Paul was invited to showcase some of his pieces at the Singapore Art Museum.

As part of the exhibition he brought a boat that had been fashioned from a bomb casing dropped sometime during the war in Laos. Inside the bomb were planted flowers which he felt really reflected the lifestyle in rural Laos.

“The concept of the installation was that something that could be used to destroy could then be put to good use. What was once dangerous has benefited people, in the form of a boat or a home garden for example,” he said.

The opening of the exhibition in Singapore earlier this month attracted more than 1,000 people who gathered to look at the installation art displayed at the museum.

The exhibition will run for four months and will enable the public to get a sense of the work being produced by Lao artists, which also includes the work of 10 other artists from Japan, Thailand and Singapore, among others.

This work is part of the seventh edition of a family-focused exhibition titled Imaginarium: To the Ends of the Earth. It aims to take a closer look at the surroundings and environments we all live in to see how people, flora, and fauna adapt to their ever-changing surroundings, exhibition organisers said.

After the exhibition wraps up in Singapore, Paul’s pieces will be shipped back to Laos to be displayed at the Eastern Art Gallery in Vientiane where he is hoping they will attract a sizeable local audience.

He owns the Eastern Art Gallery, originally opening the space in 2015.

He says the idea behind the gallery was to bring art to children and students who love drawing and painting but have no time to develop their skills in school.

“Before opening the gallery I saw a lot of problems happening around me; I saw kids who loved art but their parents wanted them to focus on other fields,” Paul said.

“These kids don’t really have much time to study art in school and that was probably 100 percent of the reason I opened the gallery initially, to provide art education on weekends to encourage young people to learn about the arts.”

Since then, hundreds of students have visited the gallery on weekends, which is open from 9-11am and from 2-4 pm with up to six teachers available at any given time.

“During school vacations I hire some of the city’s art teachers to teach at the gallery,” Paul said.

Some of the other teachers working at the gallery come from the National Institute of Fine Arts while others are freelance artists.

“Studying the arts helps people see the beauty in things. The delicate side of art can also help ease some of our current social problems and help people to relax,” Paul said.