Em Riem has not only made art his life’s work, he has created a public space to show his work to the world and allow his artistic vision to provide financial support. The 60 black and white acrylic paintings hanging on the walls of his LA Gelerie X.Em Design, depicting a wide variety of people from celebrities to victims of the Pol Pot regime, were all painted by the TKTK year old, and thanks to his entrepreneurial vision of starting his own gallery they can be seen, and potentially sold, to art lovers around Phnom Penh.
Besides being an artist he has also applied his design skills to various clients who demand his skills. “I have designed many companies, restaurants and hotels when they need me,” he said, adding that he has recently been more focused on his art since demand for residential design has subsided.
Em Riem was not born with the ability to make things beautiful, he has been working at it his whole life. He began seriously developing his painting and designing skills while studying plastic arts at the ORyal University of Fine Arts and then spent seven years at the school of Fine Arts of Saint-Etienne and the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris. Besides being shown in his own gallery, his work has been shown in international art centres like London. His hard work has not only given him a chance to do what he loves as his job; he can also make his voice heard around the world. “I want to use the art of painting to tell the people indirectly what I want to say,” he said.
Dasvyl Collins, one of the many mostly foreign visitors to Em Riem’s gallery, said that she loves his paintings because of the wealth of meaning that they carry. “These pictures speak indirectly but tell us a thousand words and speak louder than speaking,” said Collins. Regardless of the country you live in, making a living as a painter is a tough pursuit; however, Em Riem is proof that through the combination of an artistic vision and an entreprenurial spirit, it is possible.