At a Glance
“Bending Shape” an exhibit by Georges Rousse at the FCC Phnom Penh Sep 20- Oct 24, 2008.
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Working with students from the Royal University of Fine Arts, renowned French artist and photographer Georges Rousse will turn his talents loose on the mansion at 32 Sotheros Blvd.
Rousse is most well-known for his mastery of “anamorphic” art, a genre of painting and illustration marked by its use of extreme distortion and perspective.
At first glance a typical Rousse piece looks like a photograph with translucent geometric shapes overlaid. But that is the anamorphic illusion — in fact, Rousse manipulates the setting of the photograph to create the effect. This often involves weeks of work, accounting for shadows, curved walls, the slope of floors, and other anomalies of actual life. The effect is a flat design on a 3-D world.
The first known instance of anamorphic art belongs to Leonardo Da Vinci, who in the late 1400s began playing with extreme perspectives. His work would influence generations of artists. Over the next three centuries, anamorphic images became extremely popular. The technique offered an easy means of hiding dangerous political statements and heretical ideas.
Less is known about the mansion at 32 Sotheros, its exact history obscured by war and civil strife. The house was probably built in the 1920s, says Helen Grant Ross, an expert on Cambodian architecture. The National Archives have no record of the building’s original owner or use.
“It’s definitely a landmark. Just about everyone refers to it as ‘that run-down colonial building opposite the National Museum,’” says Darryl Collins, a historian at the National Museum. “It’s a typical French colonial, but has a style that incorporates a whole combination of styles imported from Europe. It was certainly built in the 1920s, and most colonial buildings of that time are this type of pastiche.”
Rousse will take over the building beginning September 8th. An exhibition of his final photographs and other works will be displayed at 32 Sotheros from September 20 until October 24, 2008.