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Aussie 'bush' artist draws crowds

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The 'Cezanne of the Australian bush' paints Siem Reap street scenes

Photo by: Peter Olszewski

Australian artist Brian Lunt at work in Siem Reap.

A touch of street theatre came to Siem Reap's Central Market district last week when groups of Khmer gathered to watch Australian bush artist Brian Lunt paint.

Unlike most artists who come to Siem Reap to render images of antiquities or rural scenes, the Australian artist spent most of his two-week painting sojourn capturing ordinary street life.

Lunt, dubbed the "Cezanne of the Australian bush" by renowned Aussie painter and Archibald Prize winner John Wolseley, said the colour of the streets fascinated him and his renderings of daily life here imparted a distinctive Parisian feeling.

"Painting street scenes was a way of orienting myself to Siem Reap," he said. "It sort of grounds me. I can spend time just observing so that's very helpful to me personally and usually at the end of the process, I have a nice little painting.

"My Siem Reap street paintings are done fairly quickly. They take an hour or so. I use a lot of colour and they are not finely detailed. I think through the sketchiness of my Siem Reap paintings, there's a lot of life in them. It's not overdone in the studio.

"Also, it's quite busy in the streets in the Siem Reap neighbourhood near where I was staying, especially early in the morning, and I just like being out watching people doing their daily rituals."

Lunt said, after the solitude of the Australian bush, it took some getting used to when crowds gathered around him.

"It's funny. If I saw someone in the Australian bush I'd freak out. But here on the streets of Siem Reap there are always people stopping and looking, even the tuk-tuk drivers stop. They're all very friendly, and they were all quite attracted to the painting process.

Lunt, who has exhibited throughout Australia, New Zealand and Germany, is planning an exhibition of his Siem Reap scenes.

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