Mr. Syprasoeuth’s work communicates his experiences of fleeing from Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, arriving in America, learning to navigate a 2nd new prosperous culture while trying to understand the pain, killing and tragedy of the 1st. His work consist of figurative sculptures, installations and mixed -media drawing and paintings.
The artworks are in the tradition of Southeast Asian apsara dancers, though – in a dreamlike and surreal fashion not unlike his experiences of growing up moving through the various and confusing multi-cultural scenes – they are purposely of indeterminate origin. The motifs, symbols and colors are at the same time traditional oriental and contemporary/revisionist.
The piece will take viewers through a surreal Asian-influenced landscape, with tragedy, death and ghostly images communicating what many people can relate to in their own way, even if the loss they suffered played out on a different landscape.
The artworks are at first reminiscent of traditional Southeast Asian temple stone figures. But the same figures, when used in his practice, come to represent the fluid and dreamlike losses and gains of the wars and cultural clashes of the last century, as well as his own personal battles to make sense of the worlds he moved through on the way. Using more Western-associated materials — craft beads, wires, string, oil, acrylic — represents this collision in his (and our) psyches in hard physical form.
This practice is similar to the work of other current Southeast Asian American refugee artists in the sense that they are all trying to reconcile their experiences of war and transplantation and their psychological effect, representing these issues through their undertaking.
Mr. Syprasoeuth’s endeavor contrasts, however, in that he am less reactionary than most. While there is still pain, confusion, and a surreal effort to make sense of it all, yet at the same time Mr. Syprasoeuth recognize the positives that came out of his experiences – the opportunities for giving, for education, for psychological transformation. Thus the result is also positive – a desire to bring the best design and cultural elements of all cultural scenes together to give birth to something exciting and new, which transcends the traditions of any one. This new look parallels a growth and transformation in their own psyches which the refugees would not have otherwise experienced.
After seeing and recognizing the tragedy — and recognizing the changes in themselves — from there onward one can only hope to come into healing and reconciliation for oneself to move forward in being a whole and more complete person.