Southeast Asia encompasses Siam (today Thailand), Burma, Cambodia, and the Khmer civilization, which spreads over these three countries, as well as Laos and Vietnam, the islands of Java and Indonesia. It is a multi-ethnic region, steeped in two religions that overlap and compliment one another magnificently: Hinduism and Buddhism. I admire in these regions the luxuriance of the largely religious iconography, the beauty of their architecture, and the technical quality of their skills. I love the force of the rites still anchored in daily life, the sense of a powerful aesthetic, which provides us with extremely decorative pieces of great effect in the most contemporary interiors.
India, homeland of the main divinities in the Brahman pantheon, spread its influence to the surrounding countries, allowing for the originality of Thai art, and also the influence of the Khmer, who, in the AD 9th century, would begin to take control of this part of the world, dominating their Mon cousins in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
I dedicate much interest to Khmer art, which I admire for its coherence and for the richness and quality of detail in its stone carving. Mostly a mural art displayed on the walls of the temples, it is made of fine-grained sandstone, used to depict both Buddhist and Hindu divinities. Although Indian stylistic influences are always obvious, the attempt later on to make freestanding statues testifies to their search for an independent identity.
The Kulen and Koh Ker periods, depicting rigidly sculpted bodies and distinctive smiling heads, embody a remarkable sophisticated beauty. Later Angkor Vat invents what can be considered among the highest achievements in architecture and adornment in the story of humanity. The sculptures are more formal, upright and muscular, and the belts and jewels carved with delicacy are a tribute to elegance. Galerie Golconda collections always offer a wide choice of statues from this region, invariably selected from ancient European collections with pedigree.
The intense trading between the port cities in the area, which created the famous “Maritime Silk Route,” went on to improve communications with China, permitting the circulation of techniques for glazing and decorating ceramics. Java, its jewels and gems, and the fascinating period of the kingdom of Mataram, need to be mentioned. The occasionally naïve and less ancient, but always captivating and highly decorative pieces of Tibetan art are sometimes part of our collections. I also pay tribute to the beauty of some Korean celadon, and Vietnamese pottery. There is a true identity of this part of the world.
We, at Galerie Golconda, are simply fascinated by it.