Original paintingS by Julien POULSON
“Love is harmony even in discord” – Master Po
Get ya Wah Wah’s out! Julien Poulson’s latest series of paintings is a palimpsest of graffiti, film iconography, text and imagery out of the Hong Kong Seventies. A self-professed fan of Kung Fu and Blaxploitation films, Poulson’s new works explores the explosive and action-packed culture clash, and funky imagery of the icons created during the ”Golden Harvest” and “Shaw Bros” film factory rivalry of the Seventies. It’s a time of Food, Factories, Consumerism, Luxury Goods and Air-Con! The series also looks at how Afropolitan literary tropes through to Chinese Opera themes find new expression through the Kung Fu cinema of 70’s Hong Kong.
EAT//FIGHT//F***//DIE is all about the underdog, the fighter – much like Hong Kong of the 70s which was struggling to find its own identity under British rule while busting out with movie companies like Golden Harvest and Shaw Brothers hitting the international stage. It would lead to raw and funky Kung Fu Movies and Cop Shows – culminating with Black Cinema stars like Jim Kelly and Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones) ending up in Hong Kong alongside Bruce Lee. These films and television shows remain highly influential across Southeast Asia, not least here in Cambodia where the history and legends also inform Poulson’s new EAT//FIGHT//F***//DIE series.
Poulson’s canvases are also a tribute to street artist Tsang Tsou Choi 曾灶財(The King of Kowloon) and show how the rise of popular street art has almost eclipsed the original ‘outsiders’ such as Tsang. Poulson’s works superimpose big graphic icons with the minutiae of everyday life as a decidedly fun, funky and upbeat take.
And finally, just because “Everyone Loves Kung Fu Fighting”… the series is a visual jam to a funky soundtrack of Kung Fu and Blaxploitation classics – Poulson has worked with Dennis Coffey (The Funk Bros, Motown, The Temptations, Bruce Lee Enter The Dragon theme, Black Belt Jones soundtrack) to record and produce The Cambodian Space Project’s seminal Whisky Cambodia LP and this music is as much inspiration for both his paintings and the launch of his improv music group The Drunken Mantis Funk Club.
About the Artist
Julien Poulson is an internationally acclaimed pop artist best known as the founder of The Cambodian Space Project. Poulson’s work spans art forms including music, printmaking, painting, film, digital media and writing. His Cambodia-inspired art is exhibited in galleries around the world and is also part of the permanent collection at the ethnographic Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam.
Poulson’s visual art brings an expansive pop art package to the psychedelic, atmospheric music of The Cambodian Space Project. His screen print poster series and led to the establishment of Sticky Finger Arts Prints Cambodia – a printmaking collective producing limited edition prints themed on South East Asian iconography. In 2010, Poulson was awarded the prestigious Alcorso Foundation Italy Artist Residency, and spent time in Venice writing a libretto and music for Muskito, a theatrical work. This collaboration with American producer Aaron Hurwitz (The Band, Bob Dylan, Mercury Rev) led to the release of an album based on tales of Tasmania’s brutal indigenous and colonial frontier history. This work ushered his move into writing and producing for film and theatre.
He continues to tour with The Cambodian Space Project and works with a diverse range of artists, such as his recent collaboration with producer Harley Stumm and director Carlos Gomes to write, develop and produce “Cosmic Cambodia” – a rock opera which premièred at Sydney Festival 2016.
Poulson now resides in Kampot where he has established the Kampot Arts & Music Association (KAMA) with the aim of developing the creative community in Cambodia by facilitating a range of workshops and art events.