Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Romeet to close doors, ponder future




Romeet to close doors, ponder future

Camille Baczynski curated the Romeet Gallery’s final art show, "Phare Celebration: Last But Not Least".
Camille Baczynski curated the Romeet Gallery’s final art show, "Phare Celebration: Last But Not Least". Charlotte Pert

Romeet to close doors, ponder future

Romeet Gallery – the Street 178 gallery which four the past four years has been the Phnom Penh showroom for graduates of Battambang’s Phare Ponleu Selpak art school – is closing for good, a statement on the gallery’s Facebook page announced yesterday.

The statement did not offer a direct explanation for the closure, but stated: “It is natural that every organization evolves and changes over time.

“Phare Ponleu Selpak wants to take this chance to develop new projects that provide the best possible opportunities to a new generation of talented, motivated students.”

The gallery will be shuttered when its current show – the group exhibition Phare Celebration: Last But Not Least – comes to an end on August 14.

Curator Camille Baczynski told the Post back in June that Phare Celebration would be the last show for a while, but that “crazy adventures will happen in September”.

Speaking to the Post yesterday, Baczynski said that after reflection it had been decided that a planned September rebrand was unfeasible.

“We want to take our time,” said Baczynski, speaking at the gallery.

“We think we really need to understand what is happening with the arts in Cambodia and artists from Phare.

“Phnom Penh is evolving really quickly right now, and the art scene as well.”

Baczynski said that there were several possible options for the future shape of a Phnom Penh-based satellite of Phare.

One option, she said, was to move away from an exhibition space and towards establishing a dynamic creative hub in the city: a place where artists were able to undertake residencies, and conduct workshops.

But, she added, moving to the other extreme was also on the cards, with Phare perhaps taking on a purely advisory role for artists looking to exhibit in Phnom Penh.

“Maybe there are enough places in Phnom Penh for them to exhibit,” she said.

“Maybe we don’t want to keep [the artists] with the Phare community, we want them to fly away.”

Phare Performing Social Enterprise chief executive Hout Dara, who is a member of the Romeet advisory board, said that the decision to close the space had been taken at the beginning of July, “after several years of talking about the same subject”.

Dara said the proliferation of attractive art spaces in the city had been one reason for the shuttering.

“The other consideration is the financial costs of running the gallery, which is a liability to the organisation,” he said, adding that Phare felt it “should be focussing on the education of the underprivileged in Battambang”.

Pointing out that “galleries are generally not money makers”, Dara said that any future exhibition outlets run by Phare in the capital would have to put commercial considerations front and centre – perhaps by incorporating other streams of revenue, such as a café.

He added that any such relaunch would not take place until at least 2016.

At Romeet, Baczynski said that she felt the closure would be felt hardest by those on the cusp of graduating from the art school in Battambang.

“I know it’s really something they think about when they finish school – they really want to do an exhibition here.”

She said that for more mature artists who had already used Romeet as a springboard to secure shows elsewhere in the country and abroad, the loss would be less profound.

“Maybe they’re going to be sad about the memory but not really about the place.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Show evidence of Chinese military base, critics told

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said he had had enough of certain countries and opposition groups claiming Cambodia had allowed China to base its military in Cambodia and dared critics to show clear evidence. Hun Sen made the remarks while presiding over a groudbreaking

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from