Battist-Angkor, a new art exhibition that is a collaboration between nine artists from Battambang and Siem Reap, opens at Palate Angkor Restaurant and Bar on Saturday.
The new exhibition, Past Actions, is inspired by environmental themes and will comprise both paintings and sculptures from the artists who, for the most part, have trained at Phare Ponleu Selpak art school.
“The intention of Battist-Angkor is for our art to raise awareness of important public issues,” says artist and curator Oun Savann.
“Our concerns include man’s impact on nature and the environment such as deforestation leading to massive flooding, the quality of life in cities, pollution, and man’s impact on climate and the weather. Each person’s actions effects everyone and everything around us.”
Oun explains that Battist-Angkor refers to Battambang artists who are now based in Siem Reap in the shadow of Angkor.
“We worked together, discussing what we were going to do,” he says. “It’s unusual to find artists working together on a project like this, because normally artists like freedom. So I think this is the first time for us. In the end we came up with the theme of nature and the environment, and especially the negative effects on the next generation.”
“We deal with animals too. Now there are many Cambodian animals that a lot of kids don’t know about – for example the kouprey. They might have seen it in a picture, but not in real life.”
One of the striking paintings, Kouprey, depicts this very animal, the Southeast Asian wild ox now thought to be possibly extinct. Depicted on a bright red background, the work is by former Phare student and Colors of Cambodia art teacher, Roeun Sinnarong.
The paintings and sculptures vary in material – from oil painting to acrylic on silk, plus sculptures made of mixed media, such as Hou Sokratana’s tree-like Innocence, made of wire and paint.
“It’s all different materials; same concept but different technique and style,” says Oun.
Fellow Phare student Soun Seney has produced a series of tall contemporary-looking sculptures entitled, Natural Miracle. Made from black PVC tubes and paper, the sculptures represent man’s destruction of the forests.
“It deals with the controlling of the cutting down of trees,” says Soun. “Mostly the tress are being cut down and Khmers never get any benefit. The only result is destruction of the natural resources.”
This is the third exhibition Palate has hosted, and art enthusiast restaurant owner Sothea Seng says he is keen to support the arts in Siem Reap.
“I always planned to have a restaurant connected with art because I personally like art. I am really passionate about it, but I don’t know how to do it myself – I cannot paint,” Sothea says.
“We wanted Palate to be not only a restaurant but also an exhibition venue because, since I love art, I always connected the two. I know Mr Savann well, but I just never had the chance to work with him. Now we are lucky to have the opportunity to do this – now is the time for him to show his art.”
There will be welcome drinks and canapés at Saturday’s opening from 7-9pm, plus live music from a Khmer pianist.
Past Actions will run from May 31 for two months..