Svay Sareth, one of the Cambodian leading artists, was born in 1972 in Battambang, Cambodia during a period of political turmoil and violence. This mess would last until he was 18 years old. Of course, all these had an enormous influence on Svay. And to express his feelings and thoughts, he began making art as a teenager while living in a refugee camp, near the Thai-Cambodian border.
After studying art at historic Site 2 refugee camp in the late 1980s, Svay Sareth became a co-founder of the vibrant non-governmental organization and art school Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang in 1994. In 2002, the artist continued his studies in France, earning the Diplôme National Supérieur d’Études des Arts Plastiques – Master of Fine Arts in 2009, after which he returned to Siem Reap to live and work.
Sareth is primarily known for his unusual sculptures, installation and durational performance, for which he uses materials and processes intentionally associated with war—metals, uniforms, camouflage and actions requiring great endurance.
Drawing on personal experience, Svay Sareth creates artworks that examine some of the many facets of war: violence, power, fear, resistance, futility, loss and survival. Svay’s works often repurpose simple objects from everyday life as a means to investigate and confront contemporary issues within and beyond Cambodia’s borders.