I admit that I always thought "blind artist" was an oxymoron. I admit that I still don't understand how it works, that I look at it like some kind of prestidigitation. But it's not. It's just an artist with another point of view. Chng Seok Tin is just that, blind with a point of view. Her primary medium is printmaking. Rolling Red Dust / Bottom of My Heart is a show with four parts. The main part is a mini-retrospective of her prints: dry-points and etchings. Some were made before she went blind in 1978, most were made afterward.
Some of the prints are diagrammatical however, most are abstract plays with lines. They represent over thirty years of work so they are quite varied and not something that one would normally find in Phnom Penh. Chng is not just another printmaker, she is extremely accomplished. She has studied, taught and exhibited for over thirty years on several continents, her technique is impeccable.
Toward the back of the gallery is a group of small tactile paintings. These paintings are meant to be touched. The bold primary colors are built up until they become objects on the surface. I prefer these paintings to the prints. They seem as though they are part of a landscape, perhaps a mental landscape or the vision of a blind person, although that might be a stretch.
In the middle of the gallery is an installation that is a recreation of a piece that Chng originally exhibited in Singapore in 2006. It is composed of long red pieces of fabric that hang from the ceiling. Interspersed amongst the fabric are sculptural objects that mostly resemble humans. The strips of fabric have images printed onto them that resemble the hanging sculptures. The strips of fabric are close enough together that one has to wade through them to experience the piece. One has to touch them, move them and look around them. The piece becomes a participation piece. It is the Rolling Red Dust of Buddhist lore which represents the "turbulence of life on earth." It's a very serious topic, with a very serious explanation, and thank you Chng, it's fun too.
Rolling Red Dust / Bottom of My Heart
Chng Seok Tin
28 February - 26 March 2008
Centre Culturel Français (CCF)