A look at the work of SomTam is to peruse the mind of a colorful and a creative character who has an active imagination and the ability to realize his imaginings in his art.
His work seems to fall into three basic categories- posed studio shots, up close and personal explorations, and enhanced photography. And it is in the last category that I think his work excels the most.
His enhanced and manipulated works have a surrealist bend. Miniaturized women straddle or caress monolithic phalluses. Naked fairy women engage in overtly sexual acts. And perhaps the most disturbing is the manipulation of the nude form into something sexual but also grotesque. Where eyes and mouths replace the vulva or the female body is compressed and manipulated in a cyclopean fashion. These images are unnerving but also compelling in their vividness and exposure.
SomTam uses as his models a selection of Asian dancers and their friends. Some of his studio shots sharply contrast his fantastical imaginations with just how ‘down to earth’ and ‘real’ his subjects appear. His up close explorations of denuded vulvas which are then softened and slightly obscured seem in some ways to bridge the gap between his realistic portrayal of girls in the studio and his fantastical created images. Still, it is those vibrant and colorful images that draw the eye more than anything else. And while the abstractions may not be to everyone’s taste, the ideas are so visually striking, it’s hard not to look away.
Article by Kayla