Something weird, and beyond reality in art expression, is happening in Phnom Penh and Valentine Walk aka Alias2.0 wants to talk about it with Good Times2’s Eileen McCormick.
Good Times2: How and when did you first become interested in doing live paintings and light painting with music?
Alias2.0: I started out studying landscape architecture in creating green spaces. I did not have any formal art training but I think that helped me to fall in love with creating. Before I started my street art life I had a small business in France. I would paint pictures on people’s walls – I think you would call such a person a muralist in English. I started to do live paintings about five years ago at an open music event.
Good Times2: What is this form of art called?
Alias2.0: Spontaneous abstract graffiti art; I think I have different styles, one is more colorful with shapes and forms of graffiti. The other kind is mechanical autographic – it’s more geometric and machine-like.
In this style I can mix them with characters like the Naga you see behind me. I prefer to make fusions with my work. I use my music and combine it with my art. I am considered a vinyl DJ so you can see my art and I have shapes that are very vinyl looking.
Good Times2: Who are similar painters who inspire you?
Alias2.0: Smash 137 is a Swiss artist that I really respect and follow. Teams of graffiti artists have a lot of guys with numbers at the end of their tag names. This is because street art as we know it today started in 1979 in Bronx New York with a guy named taki183, the 183 was inspired because of the street he grew up on. That’s why I use Alias 2.0 because there is another Alias quite famous in Germany. I chose the number 2.0 because I want people to see my art as something new like the next version of abstract painting. When people hear 2.0, they think futuristic — the direction where art is going.
Good Times2: Why did you pick Phnom Penh to share your art form?
Alias2.0: I see Phnom Penh as a hub in Asia, where I can hop about. I always preform and go to a lot of places. Recently I was in Indonesia and this year I will be going to China. It’s easy in Cambodia to get around and get the proper visas to live as an artist compared to other countries.
Cambodian traditional art is something that drew me to the country. When I see paintings on the outside walls, I can just stare at them for hours. I also use Cambodia pagoda art to link with my modern style. But I do face some issues. Although Phnom Penh has a lot of space that needs to be painted, no one wants to see colour on their walls. I often get told: ‘We don’t like that or it’s not possible or the government will not agree’.
Good Times2: Have you sold any of your work?
Alias2.0: Yes. The price depends on the size and the time it takes and can range from $300 to $1,000 dollars.
Good Times2: How do you feel when your art is being exposed or when you do your live paintings in public?
Alias2.0: I feel like painting and playing music is a cathartic experience and I am never worried about what someone is thinking when they see my art. Of course I am happy if I can get them to feel my passion but with art you can’t have expectations. I wish more Cambodians could be exposed to my art but the places that hire me are more expat and high-end places.
Last year I did an event with my work at Meta House. It was super cool and a group of art students found out about it. So for the opening of my event, there was this busload of art students who attended it. They were all really engaging, asking me all kinds of questions. I felt really happy that my work was exposed. My next up coming event will be in Meta House this month. In March I will host another event at Plantation.
Good Times2: What do you want people to see when they look at your work?
Alias2.0: Abstract is not something that you can define or have any expectation of how someone will perceive it. I just paint what I want and I hope people see it and feel something. But how they feel is not for me to try to force out. I just let it all happen naturally from person to person.
Good Times2: How do you decide on what to paint?
Alias2.0: I don’t. I like to keep things open for creative expression. My style is free style.
Good Times2: Would you like to collaborate with any artist in Phnom Penh?
Alias2.0: There are only a few people doing this kind of art. I have heard that there are about 10 or so local artists that participate in the alternative street art scene. I plan to get with them and other expats to do more collaborative work. However, we are all so busy and have to make money to survive.
Good Times2: How have people reacted to your artwork? Have any Cambodians asked you to teach them?
Alias2.0: I find it hard to be an abstract artist in Asia, especially in Cambodia, because it does not represent what we already know in our world. It’s the subconscious representation of our real world. It’s a fusion of the dream state and waking state, brought together on the page. Explaining that to Cambodians is quite hard. What they don’t understand is it’s not meant to be understood and there is no right or wrong way to feel or see abstract art. I would say just go with it.