Monochrome ink wash paintings, classically from China and Japan, are amongst the world’s oldest artistic traditions. In his contemporary take, Battambang-based Australian artist Morrison Polkinghorne adapts pointillism to this classical art form: First by using lotus stems as his brush, and secondly by creating an organic ink from its flower petals that is both holistic and spiritual in nature.
Lotus is the ideal imagery for devout Cambodia, as the lotus flower symbolizes Buddha’s spiritual awakening, emerging from the muddy dark depths into light, and finally transmuting into a flash of beauty.
“I envision my pieces ecologically and holistically, with the kingdom’s nature and environment as the inspiration,” explains the artist. “Lotus stems are my paintbrush, while its flowers create my tones.” Just as with traditional Chinese and Japanese ink wash paintings, emphasis is on the refinement of every stroke’s varying depths of tone. Each row complements the last, expressing simple beauty and elegance in the final compositions. The resultant works evoke myriad Cambodian images: its waterways and deltas, “the kingdoms’ true lifeblood”; Angkorian pillars; to classical landscapes of misty mountains and tumbling waters.
Equally noteworthy is numerology. The artist signs each work with the final number of lotus impressions. For this exhibition, Polkinghorne has totaled 132,383 points, or impressions. “As a weaver there is something both sacred and comforting to counting: from totaling shuttles going from side to side on a loom, to tallying warps and wefts. So it’s natural and automatic for me to mentally count lotus points impressed onto these works. My impressions — both literally and figuratively — of Cambodia.”
Uniquely for this Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra exhibition, the artist has designed metal frames, mounted on grey acid-free board. “These convey a juxtaposition of Cambodia’s timeless past with its 21st Century industrial future.”
l o t u s - c o u n t s
as of 18 September, 2023
I've created a total off
650,206 lotus marks
n e w s
International Artist Award
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