Spaced-Out In Wonderland
: The Art of Julien Poulson
Julien Poulson’s new series can be variously described as naïve, modern primitive and outsider art works that depict the chaotic and often schizophrenic underbelly of Cambodia’s rapidly developing capital. Poulson’s scenes are inspired by the music of Iggy Pop as well as Phnom Penh nightlife and its vibrant music scene. His pop mise-en-scene is a slew of rats, cats, garish-looking apsaras, humanoids, dogs and iguanas fraternising across a disconnected milieu and caught up in a tangled mess of electrical wires and urban chaos.
With his distinctive style, Poulson has succeeded as puppet master placing his monstrous marionettes between humor and seriousness, between fantasy and reality. With their double identity of both human being and caricature, these strange creatures dance through a hallucinatory world characterized by the ebb and flow of waking reality and the dream state. And even though the grotesque seems to dominate, his figures are warm and affable – giving the impression that they’re ‘friendlies’ and not quite as menacing as they may first appear.
The richness of forms and colors in Poulson’s works relays a fresh, funky vibrancy that is more akin to the chaotic explosion of senses typically experienced in a Cambodian food market than the neatly coiffured art world of the West. In many of his works, one can feel the urgency of his bewilderment and anxiety in the face of social, political and personal drama; there is movement in Poulson’s frames that is so alive you can almost hear the crash-bang-hiss-hum crescendo of a wild night in a seedy rock’n’roll bar, and somewhere… in amongst all this… there is a poet’s ode to Iggy Pop.
“Spaced-Out In Wonderland” will run from 4th December 2017 to 4th January 2018.
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.
EXHIBITION OPENING EVENT
[Event photography courtesy of Antal Gabelics Photography]