Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Spotlight turns on art collectors at Java Café




Spotlight turns on art collectors at Java Café

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Gallery curator Yean Reaksmey outside of Java Café. Eliah Lillis

Spotlight turns on art collectors at Java Café

Highlights from the collections of the city’s art lovers will be on display beginning next week in a new exhibition to promote the purchasing of local artwork. Object(s) of Collecting, which opens on Wednesday at Java Café, is a window into what hangs on the walls of arts patrons, as well as the relationship of collectors to the work they buy.

The idea for the exhibition originates with Yean Reaksmey, the gallery’s art curator, who is also an enthusiastic collector. It intends to promote “collectorship, patronage and art appreciation”, essential ingredients for expanding the market for modern and contemporary arts in Cambodia.

In Cambodia, collecting modern and contemporary art is still a new concept and generally misinterpreted as a Western-only pastime, although it exists in some form throughout the world. Speculating that such misinterpretation will keep the country’s art scene in an infantile stage, the collectors agreed to bring their work from home to the cafe, where they will be put on display in “a salon-like manner”.

“We also want to prove that Cambodians are enthusiastic in art collecting,” Reaksmey said. “The artworks represent each collector’s histories and memories. By putting them on display, the collectors will be able to show these stories along with their passion and taste in arts with the viewers.”

Reaksmey approached nearly two dozen Cambodian art collectors, 15 of whom agreed to lend their artworks for the exhibition. Among them are artists, art curators and historians, and government officials. Their names will be labeled next to their artwork if they give their permission.

One of those collectors is Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, a renowned dancerand award-winning choreographer of Cambodian classical dance. From her collection, Cheam Shapiro has chosen her favourite painting, Tomorrow, a depiction of a depressed old woman by the famous female painter Oeur Sokuntevv.

Tomorrow reflects the state of the poor and middle-class people in Cambodia,” Sophiline said. “Many people here live day by day, paycheck by paycheck, while the only future they are worried about is tomorrow, and their main concern is whether they have enough to eat or enough money to spend for another day of their lives.”

For Cheam Shapiro, the painting is a reflection of her own financial concerns in running her arts NGO, Khmer Arts Academy.

“Without the budget, our more than 20 artists will turn to other professions, for example [to be] garment workers,” she said. “This is the story of my devotion to Cambodia’s theater, and I want to share it with the others through Tomorrow.”

Moeng Meta, an art manager and assistant to the internationally acclaimed visual artist Sopheap Pich, lamented the lack of financial support for most contemporary artists in Cambodia.

“Most Cambodian modern and contemporary artists have to spend their own money on crafting the artwork, but they end up not being able to sell them because there are not many buyers and art collectors in Cambodia,” Meta says. “Having no market for their work means their talents are wasted and could force them to throw away their passions.”

According to Meta, public support is the only way to promote Cambodia’s modern and contemporary arts, and she sees Object(s) of Collecting as a positive start to such a movement. She lent two pieces from her exhibition but wanted to keep them secret until the opening.

“I believe the exhibition will not only expand the market for art objects but also help create a dialogue between artist and collectors,” she said. “This enhances mutual understanding and strengthens passions for arts.”

Object(s) of Collecting will open at the Java Café & Gallery on Wednesday, March 15 and will be open to the public with free admission until April 30.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Cambodia at ‘most critical moment’, Hun Sen warns

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the first community transmission of Covid-19 in Cambodia has led the country to the “most critical moment” that warranted urgent, large-scale operations to contain the pandemic. Hun Sen, who confirmed the first local transmission on November 28, said the source of

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there