Debuting on Wednesday, 27th September 2023
“Face Value” beckons you into a world where stories unfurl across a canvas, where identities are etched in color, and where every artwork is a chapter of a much grander narrative. Sra'Art Gallery is thrilled to spotlight two artists who, through their personal and artistic journeys in Cambodia, present a blend of heart, history, and humor in their work.
Gabriel Grela Mesa: Serving Stories through Art
Gabriel, currently immersed in Cambodia's soul as a Peace Corps Volunteer, finds his purpose in enriching the lives of the young minds at Prey Ven province. A fervent educator, he sees his mission as a call "to serve for the good of the people."
Yet, his artistic side is as expansive as his philanthropic spirit. With a resume that boasts exhibitions from the Americas to Africa – Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, Italy, and Togo – his artistry is undeniably global. Beyond the canvas, Gabriel's passion spills over into the realm of the audiovisual, having made appearances in international films and commercials, and collaborating with a Swedish independent film company.
Drawing inspiration from a year of understanding the Khmer people and their resilient spirit, Gabriel presents "Baphnom High School Pride". These portraits of students and teachers are windows into individual worlds – each echoing dreams, struggles, and the indomitable spirit of the community.
John Ansell: Wolverhampton's Raconteur Turned Cambodian Artist/Explorer
John, a History teacher from Wolverhampton, England, has made Cambodia his home and muse for over 12 years. Known for his energetic and engaging teaching style in Phnom Penh, his tales from the classroom often feel like "a standup routine gone wrong," a testament to his ability to tell a story and bring history to life.
Beyond the confines of the classroom, John's adventures in Cambodia are legendary amongst his friends, whether he's exploring the terrains on his Royal Enfield in pursuit of Cambodia's elusive wild alligators or camping under the stars, he can always be found regaling expats and locals with tales that grow more believable as you get to know him.
The best way to describe his art is as idiosyncratic. A vivid melange of his Cambodian journey, interspersed with pop culture motifs, nightmarish hallucinations of parasites, historical callbacks, and raw street art. Add to that a sprinkle of humor, and you have creations that resonate with both the profound and the whimsical. The effect is something that leaves a lasting impression and invokes reminiscence of the expat experience and a snapshot of a collective memory.
His deep-rooted connection to the Bouengkak neighborhood is evident, with his artistic imprints adorning its walls, bearing witness to his love for its people and their tales. He has been involved with a number of social initiatives in the area, including the legendary Street 93 Festival and his own bamboo prison cell.
As Sra'Art Gallery opens its doors to "Face Value" on the 27th of September @ 6 PM, we invite you to delve deep into the narratives of Gabriel and John. Experience Cambodia through their eyes, and celebrate the stories that have shaped their artistic journeys. Come, be a part of this unique experience of art in Cambodia.