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Simple painting versus Design painting

Wearing a long, black and white striped T-shirt and headphones in his ears with a beautifully drawn woman as a background on his laptop – this is how one might describe Kun Sotha, an artist.

“Ladies today like dressing up with painted nails and styled hair,” this phrase is what Sotha says about the picture he drew and now uses as his desktop background.

Sotha graduated from Reyum Art School in 2006 and now is so talented with drawing and painting that he used to make money with his art at the Night Market and face-painting for public events.

He received praise from a foreigner on his coloured pencil art and he was also involved with publishing a book titled Installation. The book featured work by 12 Reyum artists. Memory, one of Sotha’s pieces depicting the Khmer Rouge, was exhibited in Bophana Center.

“First, we danced. After that we drew. Then we danced again, and drew again.” Sotha explained, adding that the dancers took turns to paint a picture of a lady they loved on the big white cloth. One drew the head, others drew hands, some mixed in watercolours to complete the picture.

Aside from those projects, Sotha is also a member of Kon Khmer Koun Khmer (4K), a group of young people who work on film production. The group hosts an event, FilmCamp, where Sothat came to do face painting.

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“Cellcard [the phone company] was seeking a face painter so I asked my friend to come with me, and it was a success,” said Sotha, “Then I started doing face painting at FilmCamp and many people were interested in it. After that, Maybank contacted me to paint children’s faces at their event. I’ve become pretty well-known for it.”

Currently, he exhibits his art work under the title Color of Fashion at Botanic Cafe.

“My concept is focusing on modernity,” said Sotha, 26, explaining the title. “Mostly, people like playing around with sophisticated colours, changing clothes and phones. Seeing this, I finally came up with the name Color of Fashion.”

In his exhibition, all eight pieces are unique. “It is a new technique. I always draw portraits, but this time I wanted to make the pieces unique. I fold little pieces of paper, stick them on the canvas and then add colour to them,” Sotha said, adding that, by doing so, the pictures really emerge from the background.

Before designing each picture, Sotha said he thinks up a title in advance, designs the master plan then chooses the colours. Contemporary art demands the audience to think critically about the art. The meaning of art remains hidden in the pattern of the picture and its colours. “[Those pictures] are related to design because they are exhibited to show the abstract meaning,” Sotha said.

Sotha’s solo exhibition has a lot of support from his friends and colleagues. However, there is less support from the public because not many people know of the place where his art is displayed.

Nowadays, Sotha is taking part in a new film by Davy Chou, grandson of Vann Chan. Sotha said once the film is finished, he plans to create more art to exhibit in Siem Reap.

Sotha makes modern art with a fairly new concept and feeling “that cannot be seen directly but shown through the drawings”.



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