From the bustling city of Savannakhet, Laos to the quite musings of country town Albury, Australia; artist Phonsay Phothisomphane, draws from a life of balance and contrast to create surreal minimalist images via painting, photography and digital editing.
Having discovered his artistic talents from an early age, Phonsay slipped seamlessly into a career in graphic design and print management in Sydney. Back in a metropolis, he started playing around with architectural photography – a weekend pastime that quickly turned into a full-time endeavor.
Switching gears, Phonsay relocated to Melbourne to focus on photography and digital editing. Styling his images around architecture, geometrical shapes and patterns, lines, angles, people and the bizarre world of surrealism.
In an unexpected twist to the genre of surreal minimalism; Phonsay naturally draws inspiration from his Buddhist upbringing. The lesson of balance and harmony that his father instilled in him since childhood has a playful role in his work.
Phonsay’s enigmatic work takes us on a journey through barren landscapes, moody skies, tranquil surrounding and angular structures; bordering between reality and imagination. He balances colours harmoniously and objects within their positive and negative spaces. –
What’s your name?
Phonsay Phothisomphane pronounced (PON SAY) (POR TI SUM PARN)
What is your Instagram name?
Where did you grow up and where are you now?
I was born in Savannakhet, Laos, but grew up in a town called Albury in country New South Wales, Australia. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence here. After graduating from high school I moved to Sydney where I studied graphics and digital media at college and worked as a printer and freelance graphic designer for 12 years.
In 2014 I moved back to my hometown due to my fathers illness, he later passed away from cancer. I am now living back in Albury, where I’m pursuing my career as an artist.
What first made you interested in art?
During primary school I’d often spend my lunchtime in the library drawing or flipping through books of famous artists. I recall taking out a book on Leonardo da Vinci and being in awe of the detail and
beauty of his drawings and paintings. I guess my interest just grew from there.
Who are your main influences and who would you most like to
It would probably be Jeffrey Smart. There is something about the way he depicts his subjects, his use of color and lighting that triggersa peculiar mood. I guess those elements have impacted the way I create my images.
If I could collaborate with anyone it would be with Architects, Engineers and Environmentalists. It would be pretty cool to build a massive sculpture in the middle of a desert, an ocean or an open field and have it benefit the environment as well.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
During college, I worked at a newspaper mill, stacking newspapers for morning deliveries.
A quality assurance officer for a plastics company
A print manager and freelance graphic designer
Professionally and creatively, what’s your goal?
I have always been interested in painting and drawing and I’d love to venture into the world of hyperrealism. I think it would be awesome to see my conceptual photos come to life in paint.
What does your typical day look like? Morning rituals etc…
A typical day for me looks like this:
9:00am wake up, brush my teeth, switch on the kettle, make a
coffee, have breakfast, and turn on the laptop and ipad
10:30am start work
3:00 pm gym session
4:30 pm back at work
9:00pm work till I fall asleep which could be anywhere between
11:00pm and 3am
Do you ever get creative block and if so how do you break through
Always. I don’t see it as a setback but more as part of the process for developing new concepts and ideas… It’s difficult to stay switched on all the time and I think it’s healthy to have a bit of time out.
To stimulate the creative process again, I’ll do anything other than creating. I may pop into an art gallery to see what’s new and interesting. I particularly like trawling the Internet or Instagram for inspiration. I’ll write down my ideas or screen capture something that I’ve seen so I don’t forget it. I always have a camera in hand wherever I go, you just don’t know what might come your way that could be useful in an edit.
What’s your scariest experience?
Several years ago during the summer of 2007. I was out photographing the night scene in Sydney when two men stopped me along the walk path in the middle of Hyde Park. Initially I thought they were just going to ask for directions, but then I noticed what looked to be a knife tucked in the shirtsleeve of one of the men. They told me if I didn’t hand over my wallet that they would stab me. I didn’t have my wallet with me at the time and I pleaded for them to let me go.
I was dragged into the bushes in amongst the over grown ferns and giant fig trees where one of them pinned me down, crushing my chest with his knee while the other secured my arms. Paralyzed with fear, I saw my life flashed before me. I knew at that point I was going to be stabbed or murdered; I closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable. During that moment I heard a group of people chatting and wandering close by, so I kicked and I screamed for my life and the guys fled off with my camera bag. I was very lucky to have escaped with my life and just a few minor scratches and bruising.
What’s your favorite art work of all time?
It would have to be any of the giant balloon sculptures by Jeff Koons.
What are your current top five Instagram accounts?
A bit of a mixed bag but I’m really digging the works of:
sorry that was 6 but it was so hard to choose!
What’s your most embarrassing moment?
I’ve had many embarrassing moments but I guess the one that stood out most was from 2008. I was on my way to the gym, it was a particularly hot day and I purposely ‘dressed down’ because of the heat.
The gym was packed but I noticed the squat rack was free and so I racked up and started my warm up. A few reps in, I noticed that my shorts were sticking to my legs from the sweat and so after some adjustments I continued… Half way into my last squat, I hear an almighty rip and I could feel the rush of cool air hitting my skin from behind I knew it wasn’t good…I wasn’t wearing any underwear; I had literally mooned the entire gym and not just that, there may have been a bit of a nut slip or two. I’ve never worn cotton shorts to the gym since.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Someone wrote that they loved how all my pictures look like that they were taken from different worlds. They had never seen minimalism and surrealism in one whole picture before and that it was very inspiring to them.
Another said that when they’ve had a shit day, they just look through my feed and it brings a smile to their face.
I thought that was nice.
What makes you (incredible hulk) angry?
I’m generally not a very angry person and it takes a lot to get me to that level, if at all… but if given the circumstances the thing that would probably tip me over the edge are people who are controlling, arrogant and inconsiderate, liars and hypocrites.
What superpower would you have and why?
It would be to time travel, so I can go back and correct some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past and maybe slip in the winning numbers of a lottery.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Surround yourself with positive people and people who you look up
What couldn’t you live without?
Food, water, choices, the ability to think and express myself creatively and freely. I believe Life is what you choose to make it; it wouldn’t be much of a life if I couldn’t do those things and eat cake.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you to everyone for the awesome comments on my feed. I love you all.
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