Painter Sokquon Tran merges the Australian landscape with the German Romantic tradition.

“Dark Vision”, a solo exhibition by Cambodian-born Sokquon Tran, captures the immense mystery of the land. Held from 7 to 25 September 2016 in Sydney’s SPOT81 gallery, the exhibition presents a collection of his new painted landscapes.

Sokquon Tran, ‘The River Returns’, 2016, oil on canvas, 63 x 59 cm. Image courtesy SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘The River Returns’, 2016, oil on canvas, 63 x 59 cm. Image courtesy SPOT81.

Now based in Australia, Tran was born in Kampot, Cambodia, in 1969. He studied Fine Arts in Liverpool TAFE and the University of Western Sydney in the late 1980s and 1990s. Since then Tran has exhibited widely in places such as Tim Olsen Gallery, Roney Gallery, Powerhouse Art Centre and at the Melbourne Art Fair.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Dark Vision’, 2016, oil on canvas, 170 x 160cm. Courtesy of SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Dark Vision’, 2016, oil on canvas, 170 x 160cm. Image courtesy SPOT81.

Tran has been a finalist in the Woollahra Sculpture Prize and the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and his work is held in numerous private and corporate collections throughout Australia, Germany, Malaysia, USA, Norway, Sweden and China.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Cloud Portrait’

Sokquon Tran, ‘Cloud Portrait’, 2016, oil on canvas, 96.5 x 96.5cm. Image courtesy SPOT81.

Tran’s new exhibition “Dark Vision” captures mystery and beauty in his painted landscapes. Working principally in oil on canvas, Tran is influenced by Romantic artists and thinkers such as Delacroix and Nietzsche as well as musicians Wagner and Schubert. Religious iconography is absent from Tran’s work, an element that can be found in the earlier Romantics, as he seems to be more fascinated by the spirituality of the land.

Sokquon Tran, ‘On the Edge of Day’, 2016, oil on canvas, 133 x 122m. Courtesy of SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘On the Edge of Day’, 2016, oil on canvas, 133 x 122m. Image courtesy SPOT81.

The romantic influences are evident in his moody landscapes, where dark terrain rises up into laden skies. But spending time with the works reveal more details – light reflecting off waterways or the subtle layers as the land fades off into the distance.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Whispering lunar Incantations dissolve the floors of memory’ (Rhapsody on a Windy Night – T.S. Eliot), 2016, oil on board, 32.5cm diameter. Courtesy of SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Whispering lunar Incantations dissolve the floors of memory’ (Rhapsody on a Windy Night – T.S. Eliot), 2016, oil on board, 32.5cm diameter. Image courtesy SPOT81.

In explaining this most recent exhibition, Tran describes the importance landscape has on him, as follows,

To start with, I find peace in nature, the peace so lacking in the world.Nature is a wonderful teacher. Each painting is a revelation of instruction. It is my great privilege to be her student.

Sokquon Tran, ‘As the River Flows’, 2016, oil on canvas, 75 x 69.5cm. Courtesy of SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘As the River Flows’, 2016, oil on canvas, 75 x 69.5cm. Image courtesy SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Rain Ballad’, 2016, oil on canvas 170 x 160cm. Courtesy of SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Rain Ballad’, 2016, oil on canvas, 170 x 160cm. Image courtesy SPOT81.

The challenges faced in the contemporary world can seem overwhelming, but Tran finds a way to seek support through the beauty of nature, which he captures so poetically in his paintings.

The landscapes are not overtly placed in a specific location. Even the style or form of the landscapes defy geographic specificity, but rather represent a mystical interpretation. The images linger in your mind, creating a meditative space in which to contemplate the world around us.

Sokquon Tran, ‘When the Clouds Return’, 2016, oil on canvas, 96.5 x 96.5cm. Courtesy of SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘When the Clouds Return’, 2016, oil on canvas, 96.5 x 96.5cm. Image courtesy SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Into White, Into Blue’, 2016, oil on canvas, 63 x 59cm. Courtesy of SPOT81.

Sokquon Tran, ‘Into White, Into Blue’, 2016, oil on canvas, 63 x 59cm. Image courtesy SPOT81.

A previous painting Wombeyan Caves, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Wynne Prize, is an exception. In this work Tran names the Wombeyan region where he completed a number of studies of the piece. He explains his process for this piece, describing the places that influence his work:

The studies were oil on canvas as well as charcoal drawings and watercolours, all of which have assisted me in my final composition for the larger painting. It is an area relatively new to me as a subject. I generally concentrate my compositions on places in and around the Southern Highlands of NSW, such as Robertson and Kangaroo Valley. My two main inspirations are the Australian landscape and the German Romantic tradition, which I fuse to create a different way of seeing our countryside.

Claire Wilson

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Related Topics: Cambodian artists, events in Australia, photo feasts, painting lives on, gallery shows

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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