People are walking down the alleyways, a man is sharpening a knife, a barber cuts a man’s hair, a mother carries her baby, a monk hosts a religious ceremony, and a procession of imposing vehicles clog the street’s arteries.
These commonplace scenes of life in the capital have been given new life in What I Saw, a new abstract art exhibition by Suos Sodavy.
A visual art professor from the Royal University of Fine Arts, his fifteen paintings, depicting the everyday stories of the Cambodian people, are now adorning the walls of the InterContinental Hotel’s Insider Gallery.
“I have observed the daily activities of the Cambodian people in this city for a long time. I was interested on painting them, so I started my works from that point. It took me a long time to do it because I occasionally make mistakes with my work,” the artist said.
For this exhibition, Suos Sodavy focuses on his use of acrylic paints rather than placing a premium on the depiction of people, vehicles, streets or city, aiming to highlight the amazing colour possibilities of his chosen medium.
“My main purpose is to show how beautiful the colours themselves function on the paper. So I focused much more on the colours than the images. As artists, we don’t care how nice the images are. We just care how beautiful colours work on the paper and how happy people feel when they are viewing it,” he said.
Suos Sodavy, who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts of Budapest in 1994, has been teaching visual arts at RUFA since 1996. His artworks have been included in several exhibitions abroad, including Hungary, Vietnam and Thailand.
The 15 new works of What I Saw are on sale for US$800-950, and Suos Sodavy expects his works will be more eagerly received by foreigners, owing to the lack of taste for abstract art within Cambodia.
After teaching for 16 years, he has noticed that the people of Cambodia, including his students at RUFA, have yet to truly engage with the contemporary art trends underway in the country, with most still preferring the realist styles that dominate local visual arts.
“I think Cambodian people who have never studied the arts before cannot see the meaning of such contemporary paintings at all,” he said. “Those who do know about the arts can see the concepts. We, the artists, create the artworks from our heart, not from what the audiences want. We will let the audiences judge our works later.
“Cambodian people cannot accept the contemporary painting yet, but I’m sure they will change. Then they will understand meaning of the contemporary paintings too.”
What I Saw is on display at the Insider Gallery, on the second floor of InterContinental Hotel, until June 24.
To contact the reporter on this story: Roth Meas at [email protected]