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An eye in the sky

No one wandered lonely as a cloud during Monday night’s launch of artist Srey Bandol’s black and white illustrations of clouds at the Arts Lounge at Hotel de la Paix

As usual, curator Don Protasio dipped deep into his creative grab bag to give the launch an innovative edge: Paper darts flitted through the air, a bubble making machine worked overtime – much to the delight of the kids present – and readings of cloud-oriented poetry gave the night a funky San Francisco Ferlinghetti literary salon feel.

The event itself overshadowed the art on display, which, disappointingly, wasn’t all that eye-grabbing. No lofty inspiration here among the “Clouds” drawings.

The mostly-pencil renderings in relentless black and white tended to be a tad tedious. Very much a case of same, same and not at all different.

Perhaps I’m jaded because only the week before, while flying into Siem Reap, I experienced the real thing: an awesome cloud show in the skies above the province, and mere pencilling certainly could never capture such breathtaking spiritual grandeur.

Meanwhile, a different launch on Saturday night was another exercise in mostly black and white. This was the opening of the new Anjali House Photo Exhibition at the Heritage Suites Hotel.

The modest but interesting exhibition, titled “Life & Disability”, presented the photography work of local teenager and apprentice electrician, Sokdam, aged 17. His work is the result of tutoring by the Malaysian photographer Abdul Rahman Roslan in November 2009 during the Anjali Photo Workshops, which are usually part of the Angkor Photo Festival.

This exhibition is a telling testament of the vital role the workshops and the almost-lost festival play in fostering the almost-lost art of local Khmer photography.

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