Ing Phousera (Séra)

An artist whose creations were dedicated to the Cambodian tragedy depicts a vision for a brighter future for the Future Forum 2040 project

December 4, 2019
Ing Phousera (Séra)
Photo: Esther Segal

Séra was born in Phnom Penh in 1961. Upon completing his studies in Arts and the Science of Art at the Sorbonne University in Paris, he developed a parallel career as teacher and artist: painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving, and graphic novels. Notably, he is the author of a trilogy of graphic novels consecrated to the Cambodian tragedy: Impasse et rouge (1995, reedition 2003), L’eau et la terre (2005), Lendemains de cendres (2007). 

In 2018, after 7 years of work, he published Bitter Cucumbers, the roots of a tragedy, Cambodia 1967-1975, which opens a new path of research on the history of the kingdom.

Since 1999, he has directed several graphic novel writing workshops at the French Institute in Phnom Penh as well as more engaged workshops primarily focusing on the aspect of visual art; notably, Les Ateliers de la Mémoire (Memory Workshops). The latter, which took place at the Bophana Audiovisual Centre served as an active and cathartic revisiting of the painful history of Cambodia by involving young people in the work of remembering a past which is at once as familiar as it is unknown. Through the uniquely expressive language of graphic novels, Séra seeks to extend beyond a simple transmission of the historical record from one generation to the next by offering to the Cambodian youth an opportunity to grasp their own history through artistic creation.

In 2007, he created an outdoor memorial sculpture for the Cambodian community in the city of Bussy-Saint-Georges.  This emblematic monument to Those Without Names was installed on a roundabout since renamed: Place Phnom Penh.

In 2015, a monumental bronze sculpture by Séra is installed in the S-21 site compound, commemorating the suffering and forced displacement of the population of Phnom Penh in April 1975.

Over 25 years, his work has been extensively exhibited both individually and collectively throughout France and Cambodia. In April 2012, the French Institute in Phnom Penh marked its 20th anniversary with a spectacular exhibition dedicated to the vast painted work of Séra. In November of 2012, the revue Art Absolument selected Séra as one of the best contemporary artists in France of the last ten years; an important recognition that renders grace and homage to his great talent. He has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships, most significantly, from the Centre National des Lettres of France. 

He has maintained a valued teaching position at the Sorbonne since 1989 and in 2012 was named Curriculum Director of the Phare Ponleu Selpak School in Battambang, Cambodia. Currently, Séra has just defended his thesis under the direction of Professor Yann Toma, entitled Two Days of Ash, an essay on the necessity and limits of representation in art: comic, painting and sculpture in recent history and the tragedy of Cambodia.

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