For His New Show, British Artist Embraces Color

For his new installation at Phnom Penh’s Java Cafe & Gallery, reclusive British artist Nicolas Grey used watercolors and old photographs to lend an uncertain mystique to his intricate pen-and-ink drawings.

“You are kind of entering into this mystery that has a few clues around and the further you go into the mystery, the more and more you lose your way,” the 47-year-old said of the exhibition, “The Disappearance,” which opens today.


'Eye,' from the exhibit 'The Disappearance'. (Nicolas Grey)
‘Eye,’ from the exhibit ‘The Disappearance’. (Nicolas Grey)

“I’m trying to produce a feeling, [but] I don’t know what the name of that feeling is, particularly,” he said.

The show incorporates some of the monochromatic drawings the one-time illustrator is known for, as well as color-rich pieces incorporating photos he has collected over the years—and which he feels evoke Asia’s mysterious past.

“I incorporated them into the work because they give the flavor of an Asia that has now been replaced [and] become more marginalized,” he said.

Mr. Grey worked as an illustrator of graphic novels in London before moving to Cambodia in 2007.

He is currently based in Kampot.

“The Dis­appearance” runs through February 28.

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