Moisture, artwork by Australian artist Stephen Eastaugh. Opens August 5 at the FCC Phnom Penh. An opening reception with the artist will be held at 6 p.m. Closes September 8, 2007.
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Stephen Eastaugh has come in from the cold.
In fact, the peripatetic Australian-born artist should expect a warm welcome as he returns to Cambodia after stints living and working in Antarctica, Argentina and beyond.
So far this year Eastaugh has been in Antarctica, Argentina, Amsterdam, Cairo, Tokyo, Bangkok and now Phnom Penh. But it's a regular regimen for a man who has made wanderlust a life's work.
"I do not have a home. This is odd and almost illegal in the modern world. Not having a home makes me constantly in transit. I now confuse domestic with exotic and think airports are cozy," is how he describes his roaming ways.
Born in Melbourne in 1960, Eastaugh has been traveling the world for more than 20 years, making art and exhibiting his works. He's visited more than 70 countries and set up studios in places like Ulaan Bataar, Ougadougou, Nuuk and Phnom Penh. Along the way he's acquired a unique, contrasting aesthetic that is at once approachable and abstract.
"Picture this tussle between my brain and my body due to this geographical promiscuity. My brain is drawn to the poles for cold, cerebral order. The icy abstraction of being I see out there and I crave it. Perhaps these frigid terrains mirror the sad human disquiet of my mindscape? Simultaneously my body is lured to the tropics for hot, emotional chaos. In these fecund climes I feel raw life that feeds and comforts my body," Eastaugh writes.
On August 5, Eastaugh debuts a new mixed-media show titled "Moisture" at the FCC Phnom Penh. It is his third exhibition and his fourth visit to Phnom Penh since 1999.
"I loosely base these paintings on the lifeblood of the Kingdom of Cambodia: rivers - and that necessary element of life - water. We are mostly made of water. We need it. We are it. Simply put - if it flows enough so do we," Eastaugh says.
Pointing to humidity, rain and the "sundowner drinks," Eastaugh has found inspiration in the everyday element that pervades local life. It all blends together with the moisture of the paint he uses, producing quite another view of the Phnom Penh riverside.
"I abstract experience and landscape using paint and thread to make textured patterns that give another view from the FCC," he says.
In 2004, Eastaugh traveled on the Yamal icebreaker to the North Pole twice. In all, he's been to Antarctica eight times.
"This unstill life has required me to discard most possessions in order to remain nomadic. Foreign is now very familiar to me. I wallow in foreign anonymity, moving from studios in Phnom Penh to Paris to pack ice," he says.
Eastaugh's work can be found in major Australian public gallery collections as well as private collections all over the world.