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Smiles on dials at launch

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Another week, another fresh, talented photog selling his wares in Siem Reap. The latest snapper to come to town is West Indies-born, Belgium-raised, Gilles Sainsily.

Following a successful run in FCC Phnom Penh, his exhibition Smiles of Asia launched last Sunday in Art Deli to a packed house. The collection, on display for a month, shows an array of smile-inducing shots from around Southeast Asia.

Smiles of Asia is just that: grinning children, beaming elderly, and laughter from everyone else in between. For a region so packed with cheeriness, it’s a refreshing portrayal in a field that so often – while with good reason – depicts the destitute.

”I wanted to show the Asia we saw,” explains Gilles, “Everyone was so approachable. Everywhere we went, we were greeted with smiles.”

The pictures were taken over the last 18 months, as Gilles and his girlfriend Tisam – which ironically means smile in Moroccan – travelled throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia.

“It’s great to be able to show people our amazing trip,” says Gilles who has a special draw to Cambodia, saying the children around Tonle Sap have been among his favourite subjects. “As soon as we got here, we wanted to stay. The kids are just amazing.”

Sainsily is an established snapper in Belgium, having exhibited twice in Brussels, but he says this collection is entirely different to his previous work. He credits the support systems in place for artists here for getting this project off the ground: “Everything is easier here. If you want to do something, all you have to do is talk about it and people will gather and help.”

He says seeing the thriving scene here has inspired his own work further. “There are a lot of really talented artists and photographers here, great works by great artists, and I’m really happy to be part of this world.”

Smiles of Asia can be viewed and purchased at Art Deli throughout April.

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