Kong Vollak was born in 1983 in Phnom Penh. He graduated from Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh specializing in sculpture (2002-2006). Vollak has taken part in several workshops and residencies with foreign artists in Sri Lanka, Andorra, Singapur or Myanmar. He has also studied photography at “Le Popil Gallery”. He has been exhibiting frequently throughout Cambodia since 2005. In 2007, together with other artists of his generation, he formed the group “Stiev Selapak” (“Art Rebels”); the same year Vollak was nominated the Cambodian Curator for the Mekong Art and Culture Project. Two years later, he became a high school teacher on the subjects of Drawing and History of Khmer Art at Svay Rieng province to share his knowledge on art making and to support his own practice. Last 2013 Vollak got a Bronze Medal of Sculpture from the Juex De La Francophonie in France.
“(…) I want to use all kinds of art mediums (photography, sculpture, drawing, prints) because I think they’re all connected to each other (…)”
By exploring all these areas, he has become an extremely talented multidisciplinary artist that is nowadays consolidating his place as one of the most interesting young artists in Cambodia.
A selection of group and solo exhibitions by Kong Vollak in Cambodia includes “On The Street” (2014), Sculpture installation and photograph perform for Our city festival, at Java art gallery, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; “No Problem park” (2013), Our city festival Phnom Penh at UNESCO’s office; “ The Humanbuild” (2011) , drawing on the wall, Installation of charcoal and sculpture at SASABASSAC art gallery; “Many Floors” (2009), French Cultural Centre, Phnom Penh; “Art of Survival” (2008), Metahouse; “Spirit House” (2007), Khmer Arts Academy; “Surfacing and Anon” (2007), Sala Art Space; “Line and Lost Line” (2007), Hotel de la Paix Arts Lounge, Siem Reap; International exhibitions include “ Phadeth” (2013), Lithography and Etching, at Bliss on Bliss art studio, New York city. “Transformation II” (2008), Long Beach Cultural Center, USA, and “Thhertha International Artist Workshop” (2008), Kandi, Sri Lanka.
While collaborating with Through Waters project, Vollak has researched on water in Ratanakiri and he has created a series of artistic expressions, sculptures and painting, called “Red Land”.
Working with Kong Vollak has been one of the most enriching experiences of ARTWATERENESS. This young contemporary artist is creating really captivating artistic proposals, both in content and shape. Being aware of the history of the country and the artistic panorama, it is quite amazing to find artists like Vollak, who experiment with installations, design and contemporary art; looking at his artworks one can’t help wondering which sources they drink from, because the country has a strong lack of this kind of expressions.
Through his artistic activity, he shares outstanding reflections about his own culture and history and his concerns about the changes that development and globalization are causing in Cambodia’s society and environment. He has created a poetical and inspiring proposal in Ratanakiri for Through Waters research group; reflecting about the infinite cycle of water; he has contextualized it in the powerful red lands of this province. Standing among his artworks we are immediately transported to Ratanakiri.
Through the nonstop cycles of process, water cycle makes all life on earth beautiful. This is a recurrent cycle regularly changing terms. Tenderness and fatigue, giants of water to encourage reflection on the terms of maintenance. Ratanakiri allowed me to see the location of natural water and soil, which is red. This natural view urged me to create a work of art: this contemporary, in the form of paintings drawn by red soil in this area. The installation sculpture features the rain water irrigating the mountains and another installation sculpture features a form of plastic waterfall connection construction waterfalls. These artworks, first shown in Ratanakiri, among which the most interesting one is called “Through Water,” explain everything related to water, especially that I can create artworks sealed with water. With Through, I really want people to think about several issues related to water around the community where they live.
The Red Land was first shown at the Cultural Centre in Ratanakiri, and, afterwards, it traveled to Phnom Penh, to Canon Hall, where it was shown as a part of Through Waters exhibition during the month of June 2014. “Being in the space and getting in contact with some water artwork really helped me to generate new ideas, to talk about the daily life of this ethnic minority that lives in Ratanakiri, which changes as the development arrives. The Red Land also reflected the power of the people that lives there.”