Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Artist has new look at old architecture

Artist has new look at old architecture

Artist has new look at old architecture

111019_17b
One of David Richards’s watercolour paintings of Phnom Penh’s historic buildings.

American painter David Richards will launch his latest exhibition tomorrow night at Chinese House. A year in the making, the exhibition titled Indochine: A Romantic Look into the French Colonial Architecture from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, features a collection of 67 original watercolours focussing on the French colonial architecture built in the region between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The exhibition includes paintings of Phnom Penh’s iconic “Mansion” and post office building.

Richards said he’s been fascinated with the city’s architecture since holidaying here in the mid-’90s. “Although it’s an Asian city, the architecture gives the place a European feel, and that is something unique to this region.”

Partly inspired by the desire to raise awareness of the need for their preservation, Richards has depicted several buildings in their pre-renovated states, including a painting of the post office from 1931 featuring ornate gold and black marble panelling in the baroque style, “before they decided to paint over it in the yellow you see everywhere today.”

Influenced by the French post-impressionist painters Paul Gauguin and Henri Rousseau, as well as  Austrian symbolist Gustav Klimt, Richards describes his style as ‘very graphic, very linear and very two-dimensional.’ Yet, his latest exhibition will include of a handful of abstract paintings among Richards’ usual representational depictions.

“That’s what works for me. But every ten to fifteen paintings I like to do something different by veering off and having a bit of fun,” he said.

Originally drawn to the European and American landscape painters of the 19th century, Richards has painted “his whole life”, and covered everything from rainforest, jungle and marine-scapes, to country-side towns, Angkorian statues and the mermaids of Maui.   

His latest subject has seen him travelling beyond Cambodia to capture other French-colonial architectural sites in the region, such as the Opera House of Hanoi, Saigon’s People’s Court, and the Ansara hotel in Vientiane. And while there are no plans to take the current exhibition abroad, Richards hopes to exhibit the collection in Siem Reap, “perhaps next spring.”   

This is Richards’ fifth Cambodian exhibition in the past three years, and follows on from last year’s Bars and Beyond which depicted scenes from many of Phnom Penh’s most (in)famous bars and clubs, including Maxine’s a.k.a. Snow’s, the Led Zeppelin café and Heart of Darkness.

The Indochine exhibition launch runs from 6pm until 8pm at Chinese House. Paintings from the exhibition will be on display until November 13.

MOST VIEWED

  • US to ramp up sanctions after ‘flawed’ national polls

    At a press conference on Wednesday, the US State Department announced that it would expand visa sanctions on the Cambodian officials and individuals it deems responsible for “undermining democracy” in Cambodia. At the briefing, spokesperson Heather Nauert reiterated that the department regarded the July 29 elections

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by