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Chimvichet: Using weapons to create art

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Ouk Chimvichet’s artworks are on sale at the KBach Gallery. Prices range from $5,500 to $18,500. Photo supplied

Chimvichet: Using weapons to create art

With a heart-shaped body made of metal scraps and legs that resemble vases, the bird looks up to the sky.

Bird’s Heart was designed to appeal to those with a love for birds, says sculptor Ouk Chimvichet, who adds that he drew inspiration from a wide range of rare birds.

The artwork is part of KBach 2020 Collective Catalogue, an exhibition of a dozen metal sculptures by local artists curated by the KBach Arts organisation.

“As we approach our third anniversary, we are delighted to announce our collective of Cambodian artists for 2020.

“Our galleries are currently representing over 300 pieces of original artworks and sculptures from Cambodian artists,” KBach Arts says in a press release.

Chimvichet, who recently took part in Art in the Park at the French Embassy in Cambodia, is a former member of the Peace Art Project Cambodia who studied modern sculpture at the Royal University of Fine Art in 2006.

In KBach Collective, Chimvichet, 38, displays six metal artworks: Golden Elephant,’ Extinct Animal, Stork Family, Bird’s Heart, as well as sculptures of Tiger Wood and David Beckham.

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The sculptures are made from decommissioned weapons collected and destroyed by the Cambodian government. Photo supplied

“I am making a few sculptures of birds. They are displayed and sold at local and international shops, hotels and galleries. My bird sculptures include Eagle which is in a museum in Singapore, Storks, Adjutants, Peace Birds and Stork Family.”

These sculptures are made from decommissioned weapons collected and destroyed by the Cambodian government.

Chimvichet tells The Post that Sasha Constable, a British artist, created a group to join Cambodian artists to find peace.

Constable, who has lived in Cambodia for 15 years, trained 23 Cambodian students in metal sculpting to turn AK-47s into artworks as part of the Peace Art Project.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about wars and violence. Our works represent the end of war and the beginning of peace,” says Chimvichet.

Chimvichet built the Naga Peace Monument in 2007, a three-tonne sculpture that uses 3,000 decommissioned AK-47s. He says metal sculpting is an ancient tradition in the Kingdom.

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Chimvichet carefully puts pieces together to form an artwork. Photo supplied

“Despite being an old art form, these types of sculptures made of old weaponry are rare. Through the government’s rectangle strategy, between 2003 and 2010, AK-47s were collected to create beautiful sculptures and thus destroying these illegal weapons,” Chimvichet says.

At the Cambodia Peace Art Project, Chimvichet learned to weld metal and use his unique skills to turn weapons into art. The Cambodia Peace Art Project was the first of its kind in the Kingdom.

“These large sculptures are exhibited in parks. For example, the Peace Bird is displayed at the Wat Phnom Historical Site, Peace Fish is in Kampong Thom province, and Peace Dragon and Apsara are in Battambang,” says Chimvichet.

Chimvichet’s artworks are for sale at the KBach Gallery. Prices range from $5,500 to $18,500.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Ouk Chimvichet’s artworks are on sale at the KBach Gallery. Prices range from $5,500 to $18,500. Photo supplied

“The exhibition at KBach Arts will last six months,” says Chimvichet.

He points out that many artists do not own their galleries and must work with art galleries to show their work.

“If art galleries don’t understand the paintings or sculptures, the business will fail. The price of the artwork depends on the artist’s reputation. Artists always create something new and attractive. The price will also change depending on the location of the exhibition.

“There are many supporters and lovers of this type of art. Those that choose to buy this art are wealthy individuals with a long-term vision. The more we preserve sculptures and paintings, the more they will sell for,” he says.

KBach Arts is located at The Factory, National Road 2, Chak Angre Leu commune, Mean Chey district, Phnom Penh. For more information, visit its Facebook page @KBachArts.

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