How did you get started and how long have you been working with papier-mâché? I’ve been working in Siem Reap for two years, creating original papier-mâché sculptures and other pieces of art.
Why did you come to Cambodia? After several trips to Cambodia, I moved permanently to Siem Reap in 2010. After noticing the appeal of Khmer art among the many tourists coming here on holiday and who wish to bring back quality souvenirs back home after visiting the Angkor temples, I decided to open my own workshop specializing in papier-mâché sculptures. As it is always awkward and inconvenient to travel with stone or bronze souvenirs, I had the idea to create papier-mâché sculptures made from recycled newspapers.
What is your main inspiration and what do you want to show with your art? I discovered Cambodia in 2005 after travelling extensively throughout South-East Asia. I instantly fell in love with the Angkor temples and Khmer art. I also got to know and appreciate the smiling and friendly people of Cambodia. My work consists in creating sculptures with a style that is strongly influenced by Khmer art while giving it an aged finish that is much more attractive than lifeless modern copies. After making an earthen model, I use a mould to make the sculptures from recycled newspapers and various natural products. Thanks to a unique technique and natural colours based patina, I can give my sculptures the aged appearance of bronze or stone with the advantage of being strong, light and easy to transport.
What is the meaning of “Jayav Art”? I am very interested in the history of the Khmer empire and I found out that a Khmer king left a significant imprint on ancient Khmer history. Not only was he the greatest king, but he was also the last powerful monarch of the Khmer empire. His name is Jayavarman VII and he built Angkor Thom and Bayon temple, two places that have fascinated me since I was a teenager. The word “art” being included in his own name, I thought that he symbolized perfectly what I wanted to express through my work.
Which is your favorite piece and why? My favorite sculpture is the “Bayon Head” because it symbolizes the art that characterizes Bayon. It is also one of the first pieces of art I created and it is always very popular among my customers.
What are your plans for the future? Today I also accept specific orders from private customers in addition to my regular sculptures output. Recently I have received an order for two life-size papier-mâché cows from a restaurant in Phnom Penh. I also make lacquered papier-mâché boxes for a gallery in Siem Reap. Other orders include lamps for a bar and several requests that are now under consideration. My unique and original technique allows me to create a wide range of pieces of art with a lot of leeway. My wish for the future is to go on creating and working with my small team with the same motivation and love of art.
Jayav Art’s web site can be found here. Gallery hours are Mon – Sun, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.