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French flair forty-five ways

The Kingdom sees Franco-Asian art exhibition showcasing emerging artists

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Muriel Tranier Alaux’s mixed-media work Un soir de vent is one of the standout pieces included in the exhibition.

Diversity seems to be a recurring factor among exhibitions and artists who pass through Phnom Penh, and this month’s latest international art show is no different.

The Galleries Thuillier – located near the famed Picasso Museum in the historical le Marais district of Paris – is in town, bringing to the city the first Franco-Asian cooperative to exhibit in the Kingdom.

Forty-five French artists and two Japanese creatives are represented in the show, which has no running theme other than that the artists have each chosen one piece of artwork to be displayed during the weeklong event.

The overseer of the whole production is Galleries Thuillier’s Denis Cornet, the official curator, who says the aim of his gallery is to promote and support emerging artists from around the world, but specifically those from France.

As can be expected with this kind of vision, techniques in the show are wide and experimental, an element Jean-Martial Vezin, president of l’association France-Japon, which brought the collective to Cambodia, says he and many art patrons enjoy.

Ann Dunbar, an emerging and enthusiastic French artist, brought to the show a work she created after visiting Japan’s Okinawa Island with l’association France-Japon in 2008. The trip was the forerunner to this week’s exhibition and instilled in Dunbar a thirst for inspiration from exotic, far away lands.

“Now I am in Cambodia and

I am so excited to see the country, to draw while sitting in temples and to get a taste of the people and culture here. It’s like á la carte for artists,” she says.

“I hope to make many works while I am here about Cambodia and come back sometime to exhibit them.”

Dunbar says she’s been perfecting her delicate embroidery-on-paper technique for over 25 years, explaining that finding just the right type of paper has been tedious.

Her perseverance, and obvious passion, seems to have paid off though. Her piece, Filtering Light of Maples, captures that dancing, effervescent light artists throughout history have found synonymous with the historically charged natural landscapes of Japan. Rich shades of red, gold and amber flit across the surface of the page, depicting rays of warm sun breaking through the tiny, dotted gaps between the leaves of a swaying maple tree.

Perhaps the most exciting artist to be represented in the show is Muriel Tranier Alaux, also known as Mu. And although the artist herself didn’t make it over here with the group, Cornet says her work is some of the best Galleries Thuillier carries.

Included in this exhibition is Mu’s mixed-media on canvas piece Un soir de vent (An Evening of Wind) (70x70cm, 2009). A mélange of textures and electric brushstrokes, the work is an otherworldly interpretation of her desire to tangibly express raw emotion in its purest form. Mu, who says her art making is a way to connect directly with her consciousness, uses veils of colour to create a kind of musicality in her painting that lends itself to creating works that seem to jump and roll before the eye.

While in general the range of work in this exhibition isn’t ground-breaking in terms of concept or theme, it’s great to see a group of emerging artists supporting each other in a time when each is finding their own creative footing.

Each piece of artwork exhibited in the Franco-Asian show is for sale and prices range from €500 (US$705) to €2,000 (US$2,830).

The Galleries Thuillier Franco-Asian exhibition is currently showing at The Chinese House Lounge Bar and Gallery, 45 Sisowath Quay, and closes on Saturday, January 30. Call 012 344 258 for details.

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