Artist narrative

The Fragments show has travelled around the globe but this is the first time it has been exhibited in South East Asia, the region where it originated. Through sales of the Fragment sculptures Blake has raised more than USD200,000 which has been donated directly to organisations involved in landmine clearance. ‘Fragments’ is about connecting art with social conscience.

Although nudes, the figures lack a sexual appeal, instead emphasising to the viewer, the vulnerability of our living flesh. The sculptures are precise and considered and exemplify a mastery of draughtsmanship with the male and female body. Blake is sensitive to the qualities of bronze and has caste images expressing the fragility of the human body in an age-old material.

Proceeds from sales of the Fragments pieces at Hotel de la Paix will go to the local NGO (non-governmental organisation) Cambodian Self-Help Demining (CSHD). Aki Ra who was a child soldier during the Cambodian wars in the late twentieth century, founded CSHD. It is a Khmer run demining organisation whose mission is to clear landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO’s) in ‘low priority villages’ in Cambodia.

"I want to make Cambodia safe for my people" says Aki Ra.

Since 1979 there have been more than 63,500 landmine casualties (this includes fatalities and survivors) and there are up to 40,000 amputees currently living in Cambodia. In recent years there has been significant success at reducing the amount of landmine incidents, with numbers falling from 875 in 2005 to 243 in 2009. However, the travesty continues and money is needed to continue the heroic work carried out by deminers. You too can be part of Blake’s solution, by purchasing a Fragments sculpture.

Artist bio

Canadian artist Blake was born in 1956 in Yellowknife. As University he created abstract steel sculptures, and then moved to Paris for 4 years where he had formal training in figurative sculpture. During this period he was influenced by masters such as Houdon, Rodin and Carpeaux.

In 1989 he created his first politically inspired sculpture, contrasting the fall of the Berlin wall with the silencing of the pro-democracy movement in China’s Tiananmen Square. On visits to Italy, Greece and Turkey Blake was inspired by fragmented sculptures that had been damaged by the continuous cycles of war from the ancient Greek and Roman periods. These archaeological remains illustrated to him the reality of war, the lack of glory in destruction and the surviving nature of man.

“My original search for beauty is an adventure that has led finally to the need for my art works to make a statement beyond beauty. My goal is to create sculptures that provoke and encourage the interrogation of society. My art is humanistic, representational and investigative.”

In 2003 Blake travelled to Vietnam where he taught at the Hanoi Fine Art University. During this time he also visited Cambodia and was deeply moved by the numerous amputees he saw in Vietnam and Cambodia. As a result of this trip the Fragments series was born. Each of the 15 sculptures on show is named after a landmine, with the intention of raising awareness of the devastation and the damaging legacy that wars leave behind.

"I have deliberately named each of these sculptures after a different type of landmine in order to communicate the connection with the issue and also to illustrate what these remnants of war do to the beautiful human body and symbolically to our society."

23 September - 02 November 2010

Hôtel de la Paix > Arts Lounge > Fragments