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Hotel de la Paix is in bloom once more

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Tieng Phalla oil painting on display at Hotel de la Paix’s Arts Lounge.

After a long run of artwork exhibits in black and white, Hotel de la Paix’s Arts Lounge is now a riot of colour to usher in the festive season.

The featured exhibit is titled Bloom, and is the work of Tieng Phalla, a native of Kampong Speu Province and a graduate of the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. The paintings in “Bloom” have a hyper realistic and super colourful style – you can almost feel the pollen and pheromones in the air and hear the buzzing of insects.

There’s certainly an undercurrent to Phalla’s oeuvre, as he focuses on swarms of flies and the naughtier aspects of the orchid’s anatomy. One flower’s centre unmistakably looks like a pair of plump lips, ready for smooching, and a pack of flies surrounds an electrical socket in the corner of the lounge, suggesting it has some sort of blossoming powers. The paintings are for sale, most for about $1300.

Phalla unfortunately wasn’t able to attend his own opening at the Arts Lounge on December 12, because he is working on a mural for a temple outside of Phnom Penh. But the opening reception for his exhibition carried all the hallmarks of a Hotel de la Paix innovative launch night, and felt more like something out of New York than Siem Reap.

Guests shuffled through the modern lounge poring over the Khmer artist’s oil paintings of orchids, which spilled off their canvases and onto the walls and columns of the room. The stylish bar lighting continually changed colour from yellow to purple to magenta, reflecting off patrons’ faces as they sipped Chilean wine. Black-clad waiters offered up fancy treats like lamb skewers with yogurt sauce, as Arts Lounge curator Don Protasio, wearing fire engine red from head to toe, flitted around like a butterfly.

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