Angkor Wat Earth/Sky
Acrylic on Canvas 24” x 30”, 2018
After passing through India and Nepal on my journey around the world in 2017, I stopped into Cambodia to marvel at the materialization of religious and political conceptions imported from India and adapted to local traditions within Angkor Archaeological Park.
What struck me most was the great city of Angkor Thom, a temple complex built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. In the center of this great city, these gigantic serene face sculptures (6-8 feet tall) belong to 37 (originally 49) towers that make up the mountain temple of Bayon, built to represent Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. With four faces on each tower, there used to be almost 200 total, each one is looking to one of the four cardinal directions.
Dubbed the ‘Mona Lisa of South East Asia’ the closed eyes and mysterious smile, which represent the achievement of the state of Enlightenment. King Jayavarman identified himself with Buddha and Lokeshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion, so the faces could be a blend of the two.
In the painting, Angkor Wat Earth/Sky, I focus on contrast, using a double complementary color scheme (blue and orange with yellow and violet) and equal positive and negative space, representing the paradoxical relationship between physical and spiritual. Similar to the philosophy of yin and yang, ego and soul, up and down, inhale and exhale, we live in a world of two opposites. I strive to find the balance between being and doing, opening and contracting, giving and receiving, speaking and listening, nature and city, adventure and stillness.