A two-fold exhibition of work from Down Under will take place up-river at Hotel 1961 next week.
Voices From Oz will launch at the gallery on Wednesday, July 11 at 6pm. The exhibition marries the work of a diverse collection of contemporary Australian artists, as well as the yet-to-be-created work of a group of painters from Down Under in town for a painting tour.
The coming-together of the two was serendipitous says 1961’s Loven Ramos.
“A couple of months ago there were five artists from Australia, who came to us, who visited the New Hope Cambodia and they were so touched by what they do,” he explains. “They thought the only way they could help them out is to donate their work, so they asked me if we’d be able to give a home to their work and the proceeds would go directly to New Hope.”
Enter Glen Saunders of 1961’s next-door neighbour River Garden, who is hosting a group of Australian painters for a painting tour of the temples, led by Glen’s friend, award-winning artist, Craig Penny.
“So I thought we could link in,” says Loven. “The timing was perfect. The universe conspired to bring it together.”
The result will be an exhibition of some works from Craig’s own collection, a sampling of work created by the River Garden group, as well as the mix-media creations of the five artists – all of whom are Australian, but with influences from both there and here.
The group of five established artists – Ryan Nazzari, Christine Turner, Clinton Cross, Brad Marsellos and Danielle Bain – will add a mix of photography, paint and more abstract multimedia to the work of the visiting painters.
“It’s a whole line of really diverse works that they did back home in Australia,” says Loven, who wants to take the opportunity to introduce international work to Khmer artists by linking in with art teachers and students. “To see art that’s being located from outside of Cambodia’s borders. They’re very strict with painting and sculpture so it gives them a broader perspective of what they can do and give them much more freedom to really express themselves fully in different perspectives.”
As for the group under Craig’s tutelage, Glen, himself a budding painter, says it’s going to be a real test of their skills.
“In Australia, it’s deserts and gum trees and koalas and things like that so they’ve been thrown into this environment, they’re going to have to instantly react to it.”
Craig says he’s excited to see what they produce in the new surroundings, “It’s a various mix, some are amateurs, some semi-professional, but this is a really alternative thing for them in terms of a painting subject, and they’ll be challenged by it,” he explains.
“I’m sure there’ll be some naïve works done and also some confident works done. It’s going to take them outside the square to a degree, it should make for interesting stuff.”
For Loven, it will be intriguing to see Cambodia from a fresh perspective. “It’s interesting to look at Cambodia through their eyes, as they’re just immersing themselves in it.”
Glen and Craig agree that while painting tours for Australians in Province and Tuscany are popular, Asia will be an exciting destination for them and something Glen wants to promote, particularly in Siem Reap.
“We’re trying to really encourage it, and really encourage the art scene in Siem Reap, big time. 1961 is a real focal point, and the city itself should really lift itself. Dare I say it? We’re better that Battambang.
Why? Because we have the tourists, we have the turn-over, the artists should be here,” he explains. “Now that places like De la Paix are gone, and probably won’t be resurrected again in the same way, it’s up to people like us to simulate what they started, because they had a good thing going.”
Loven agrees that following the closure of the hotel, which he too exhibited in and worked with, there will be a void that needs to be filled, something he hopes this exhibition may contribute to.
“We want to have as much global art as Cambodian art to be able to cross paths and have a deeper understanding and respect for each other. It’s really just about a great interchange of ideas and backgrounds of art depending on which cultural reference you’re from.”
Voices from Oz will launch at 1961 on Wednesday, July 11 and 6pm, all are welcome. Proceeds from choice artworks will go to New Hope Cambodia.