San Setpheap (Peace) is an Architect, artist and dancer. A graduate from Reyum Art School (2005) and Reyum Workshop (2007), Setpheap was exposed to a wide range of contemporary practices by visiting artists. Since 2006 he has been training and touring the Unites States with Eiko+Koma, a New York-based Japanese dance group.
He graduated from architecture and urbanism at Norton University in Phnom Penh Cambodia. Recently,he is studying at Parsons The New School in New York. Setpheap’s art practice is influenced by his studies. He applies basic architectural design and construction principles to create large-scale paper installations that reference symbols of Khmer culture.
Khmer Buddhism naturally incorporates figures and concepts from the ancient Hindu and ancestor-honoring origins, such as the naga, or serpent, believed to be the mythical origins of the Khmer people. Its architectural use personifies the bridge between the earthly and celestial worlds, therefore nagas adorn structures that serve as important intermediary sights between earthly life and afterlife. Where there is a temple, palace, or even a church- there are naga statues or carvings. Depending on the position and shape it takes, the naga can symbolize immortality (uncoiled and used as a balustrade), or strength and protection (upright as a cobra and positioned over the sculptures of the Buddha).
That Cambodia’s youngest artist chose to create what many consider to be the original symbol of Khmer identity is a testament to its continued significance. Sorn’s dynamic Naga is made from hundreds of pieces of folded paper, creating an undulating form- a new form for a new generation.