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Khmer artists exhibit colourful new work at Institut Francais


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Artists Em Riem and Meas Sokhorn launched a joint exhibition at the Institut Francais yesterday, containing paitings and sculptures.

Em Riem’s exhibition, Nature, was inspired by the city’s fruit and vegetable markets.

“I didn’t want to exhibit the Khmer Rouge series of portrays again,” he said. “That project is good, but it is also dark and very sad. I wanted to create something different, something fresh, and use some colours.

“You might ask yourself why a banana is blue and an aubergine or a pear is bright red. I changed the colours because I didn’t want to use a realistic still-life style. At the same time, however, I couldn’t make it too abstract, the Cambodian public wouldn’t understand it. The result is a compromise between my desire to make something modern and the need to be understood.”

Une Pile Sans Titre by Meas Sokhorn, is a collection of 15 paintings and one installation comprising 10 white canvases. Every painting is glued over a black and white photograph of other local artists’ work.

“This exhibition is my critique of local art,” said Sokhorn. “The copy of the paintings that I took and modified with my own work is a way to confront different concepts and ways of making art. It’s a comparison between my idea of art as something meaningful that goes behind appearance, with the local idea of art as something decorative and meaningless. I just hope people will understand what I want to say with this exhibition, and find a new respect for what art really is.”

Em Riem said the Cambodian art scene is developing fast, but still quite constrained.

“People still need to get used to another way of making art, which is not only copying or repeating, but creating. I came back from France for this reason, to promote Cambodian contemporary art, show the public that there is something more than the traditional Angkor Wat style and the standardised repetition of the same themes and subjects.”

The exhibitions will be open until February 11.

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