Cages Torn Open
Exhibition of Sculptures and Paintings at Meta House, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom
– Maya Angelou
Vivid new exhibition
We are born free, and everywhere in chains. We are animals in zoos behind bars, we are women and men locked away in our factories and offices. The only difference between animal and human is the hand, which can wave, caress, paint; but also build barriers, construct fences and turn locks. Still, the eyes of humans, eyes of birds, eyes of beasts, all twinkle with the desire for liberty.
In Chhan Dina’s vivid new exhibition, Cages torn open, we are reminded of what we share with other living beings, and what we forget and deny. The paintings explode with colour, a confident assertion of the shared liberation theme. In paint, line and colour blur the distinctions between species, all swimming in the same soup; in fired clay, disparate characteristics are fused into one body.
Faces shine at us, even when grotesque. Open hands reach towards us, into us, prompting a reflection on the nature of humanity: a word we use to describe both our highest ideals and our inevitable imperfections. Are we feeding the animals? Warding off danger? Asking for forgiveness? Giving a warning? Offering a helping hand?
These hands are tearing open the cages that keep us from embracing all living things.
Meta House, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tuesday 13th of May, 2014. Exhibition runs until the 12th of June, 2014