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A mother’s colourful love

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Battambang artist Thor Vutha portrays a mother’s love for her child in his series of paintings Baby and Mother showing at the Insider Gallery in Phnom Penh.

From the moment a woman finds out she is pregnant, she pays more attention to every movement – how she walks, stands, sits, sleeps, eats – in order to ensure her baby is safe.

When her baby is born, she doubles her care to comfort the child with compassion and love. In response, the baby looks at the mother with inquisitive eyes and love.

This unique bond has been captured by Battambang painter Tor Vutha, and serves as the theme of a series of paintings entitled Baby and Mother that will open tomorrow at Phnom Penh’s Insider Gallery.

“My purpose in showing this art is to stimulate people to think about how children are treated,” says the 37-year-old painter, who is also an art teacher and co-founder of the renowned Phare Ponleu Selpak arts school in Battambang province.

“If mothers don’t treat their children very well, when their children grow up they won’t take care of them very well either. But if we treat our children better, they will care about us in the future too. This will continue to the next generation.”

Tor Vutha got the idea for treatment behaviour after seeing negative images such as child beggars, child labour or child scrap scavengers in Cambodian society.

“Their parents are most likely careless with their children,” he thought.

Tor Vutha’s awareness of such social issues is reflected in his own life, and he vows to not let them happen with his first baby, who was born recently.

He and his wife have treated their baby gently and with compassion and love, he says.

“When we first got married, we felt normal,” he said. “When we had a baby, we felt we had a big responsibility. We had to give more love.”

Through the images, Tor Vutha also wants mothers to be aware of pregnancy.

He feels that women should have compassion for their unborn babies, and that if they are not ready to have a baby, they should take steps to avoid getting pregnant.

The Baby and Mother exhibit includes 37 abstract paintings. In his paintings, Tor Vutha shows the face or body of the mother and unborn baby. He uses his abstract style to add emotion to the works.

Along with the paintings, Tor Vutha will be showing seven sculptures from an exhibition entitled Mother’s Love that he presented last year.

The sculptures were inspired by the story of his widowed mother, who raised him and his 10 siblings with the compassion and love that he plans to bestow on his own child.

Tor Vutha hopes that by displaying his work at InterContinental Hotel’s gallery, he will have a chance to share Cambodian contemporary art with many different people, especially foreigners, and show how Cambodian artists try to apply their artistic ideas to represent social issues.

He feels that until now, foreigners have shown more interest in his work than Cambodians.

He attributes this to the fact that Cambodians often worry more about their business or their job than about art.

“When people cannot afford enough, how they are going to think about art?” he says. “But all that will change. Cambodian people will find art important too.”

Baby and Mother will be on display until May 27 at the Insider Gallery of the InterContinetal Hotel, #296 Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, Phnom Penh. The opening will take place this evening at 7pm.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roth Meas at meas.roth@phnompenhpost.com

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