Than Sok / Cambodia b.1984 / Kbach Teuk (Lotus Flower Form) 2021 / Synthetic polymer paint on canvas / 150 x 110cm / Purchased 2021 with funds from The Spellbrook Foundation and QAGOMA Foundation / Collection: QAGOMA / © Than Sok

Than Sok
Kbach Teuk (Lotus Flower Form) 2021

Not Currently on Display

Than Sok’s series is based on a particular form of Buddhist painting, reconceptualising the water patterns in temple mural painting — known as Kbach Teuk (water forms) — into an experimental format.

Delicately executed in a palette of greens and blues, each painting focuses on a different aspect of the natural world, which is then transformed into a unique water design. Individual works become a study of a particular animal or plant — such as shrimp or lotus flowers — melding into the form of a corresponding water motif. Such patterning typically serves as the backdrop in ancient Hindu and Buddhist narrative painting; however, Than transforms these into their own composition, where the detail and design are the primary focus. The brushstrokes echo contours of waves, ripples and changing currents of waterways, suggesting the rhythm of water’s flow.

The series focuses on the reliance and interdependence of all life on water and reiterates why this subject has been a preoccupation of art, culture and belief throughout history.

Than Sok grew up in the southern province of Takeo. Like many young people in Cambodia, he assisted monks in his adolescence, performing menial tasks believed to bring spiritual merit to the family.

After moving to Phnom Penh, Than enrolled at Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture. There, exposed to contemporary experimental art practices, he developed an aptitude for painting. He began seeing the potential to learn and renegotiate Buddhist disciplines through a range of artistic media.

Through his art practice, Than infuses new meaning into spiritual practices and investigates the ways in which they permeate daily life and culture in Cambodia. His art explores how these principles dictate relationships to community and environment, while questioning the role of religious ritual and its incumbent sense of morality.

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