For young Cambodians who follow their passion and pursue a career in the arts, making a living is a challenge. Even successful art- school graduates in the Kingdom often end up working in unrelated fields because they’re unable to sell their art.
Noting this, the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) has organised the first annual Cambodian Fine Art Contest as a way of promoting the work of early-career artists.
The contest is open to profess-ional and non-professional artists between 18 and 30.
The submission period has en-ded, but submitted works will be on display from today until April 19 at RUFA’s gallery before the winners are selected.
“I’ve taught many Cambodian students,” contest co-ordinator Takakazu Yamada says.
“After they graduate, many of them cannot earn good wages with their art. By organising this contest, the quality and value of Cambodian arts will go up.”
Yamada moved to Cambodia from his native Japan in 1999 to draw the Kingdom’s landscapes, ancient temples and people. A decade later, he became a guest professor at RUFA, where he teaches painting techniques, sculpture and design to Cambodian students.
“Every time I teach Cambodian students, I feel they have talent. We will try to have this contest every year. We’ll give artists a chance to show their work,” he says.
Information about the contest has been spread to various art schools in Cambodia since early March, and 90 professional and non-professional artists submitted their paintings, drawings, sculptures and designs.
On display at the RUFA gallery are a total of 14 sculptures, 27 paintings and drawings, and 60 graphic designs. Some artists have entered two pieces in the contest.
Contestants were asked to create works related to the theme “My Lovely Cambodia”.
Van Chhor Vorn, 30, a student at the renowned Phare Ponleu Selpak art school in Battambang, sub-mitted an acrylic-and-oil painting entitled Dream Of My Life, which depicts a young man following the Buddha’s way of compassion.
In the painting, his compassion is shown to extend to the entire country, embodied by an image of the Angkor Wat temple.
“I’ve shown my art in Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap, but I had never entered a contest,” the aspiring artist says.
“This is the first time in my life. It really encourages us as artists to improve our work.”
Judges for the competition include representatives of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the National Museum and the embassy of Japan, as well as established Cambodian artists, professors from RUFA and Yam-ada himself.
The judges will evaluate three main components of the each piece – concept, technique and composition – and assign points based on those criteria.
The winner will receive US1,000, the runner-up $500 and the third placegetterize $300. The winner will be given the opportunity to open a personal exhibition at a sponsor’s gallery.
The contest has about 35 official sponsors, among them many Japanese companies operating in Cambodia, as well as arts organisations such as Meta House and the Kawaijuku Art Institute.
The opening ceremony for the exhibit of the pieces submitted to the Cambodian Fine Art Contest will take place today, April 5, at RUFA’s gallery from 3pm to 5:30pm. The exhibit will be open to the public from 8am to 5pm until April 19.
The RUFA gallery is located on Street 178 in Phnom Penh, behind the National Museum. Entrance is free.