New Zealand Based Artist Lang Ea Conceptualizes Reactions of War

Updated: Feb 5, 2019


W.O.M.D by artist Lang Ea

Lang Ea's art practice addresses the tragic and brutal challenges of war. Her personal experiences drive her sub–conscious to still search for her lost childhood memories, to try to understand, without acceptance, what war is all about.


Ea Arrived in New Zealand with her family as refugees in 1982 when she was 8 years old, As a child trapped in a war zone, born in 1974 -6 months before the Cambodian war. While growing up in New Zealand, listening to stories of what had happened, she cannot remember or relate to any of it.


As an aspiring young artist in the late 90's trying to find a unique voice, The Bosnian war was everywhere in the media, this then triggered a sub-conscious memory of the experience as a child during the Cambodian war. As a reaction, Ea then started a painting series called the Red Cross series, it was an abstract but figurative painting series filled with symbolism.


Artist Lang Ea

When she returned as a traveler to Cambodia, she was stunned at how little the country had recovered from the war. Amidst all of this tragedy and sadness, Ea's desire to reconnect with her memories to the country was fading, and she began to re-interpret her early paintings and how they were influenced by her sub-conscious.


Ea elaborates: "When ever I create a new artwork, I try to conceptualize it first, then I would experiment and implement the technique, and material to produce the work. The result displayed a multi media multi discipline body of work, however ensuring that the concept is a unique vision and voice yet conveying a coherent and consistent sense of unity and harmony throughout the body of work."


The Barbarians by Lang Ea
"I believe that I communicate issues of war through my work because it connects both to my personal experience and the current reaction to wars around the world"

Here is her take on the art scene in New Zealand,

LE: New Zealand is far away from the centre of the Art world, however the internet has made it easier for artists to take their work to a wider and more diverse audience.


The Wallace Foundation is probably the largest patron supporting the arts within New Zealand across all disciplines. It also holds the biggest art award annually and has established itself to be the richest and most prestigious award in the country, which I’ve been, selected a number of times as a finalist. One of the foundation’s focuses has been to support artists with funding to travel international where they can take their work to a wider audience, which I am thankful for the funding for my Redgate residency in Beijing.


Ka Boom! by Lang Ea

Ea's background in design also plays a role within her art practice,

"Actually I have only discovered recently that my background in Design has influence my approach to my art in many ways especially the process described above. I have taken each new art work like a design process, where I methodically work through each level, solving all the potential problems before progressing forward and implementing it to the final Art work."


Listen II Remains by Lang Ea

Ea is currently in the process of working with local council to implement a permanent public sculpture within the local Central City Area. Also she is working on her large scale painting series ‘Still life/ wall paper series’ started during her Art Omi international artist residency in Ghent –New York in mid 2017. The Still life/ Wall paper’ series illustrates an allegory which interprets how our privilege peaceful still lives are focus on obsessively consuming beautiful objects for adorning our homes, while the atrocities of war happening in other parts of the world is construed as insipid faded wall paper lingering in the background.


"I have found how important it is to be given the opportunity to do an international artist residency where you are supported not only by the residency and surrounding environment, but the international artist’s peers residing amongst you. Having had a year off last year, this year I would like to apply for more international residency opportunities."


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