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Art gallery making waves

Art gallery making waves

C ontemporary art arrived in Phnom Penh on Jan. 18 with the opening of the New

Art Gallery which aims to promote and develop Cambodian talent.

The

city's first commercial gallery has work from Thai watercolorist Somboon

Phuangdorkmai. She has worked in Phuket and Bangkok and is showing 18 paintings

under the title "Waves."

Her work can be divided into three categories.

One series is based upon waves and sea spray. In these, the motion of the waves

becomes fixed and tends towards abstraction and pattern.

The paintings

give a sense of movement and also suggest realistic and abstract representation.

There are subtle modulations of color from dark to light. The pastel colors she

chooses range from green to brown and from blue to white.

The exhibition

features a second type of watercolor which is more structured and has a solid

feel of gardens and vegetation. But the wave series is particularly impressive

in showing an intriguing choice of subject for the experiment of subtle

development of tone.

In addition, there are four sketchbooks in which

the pen drawings are finely done. The quick sketches of animals, in particular

those done with a minimum of detail and with obvious spontaneity, give a great

sense of volume and vitality. Especially attractive are ones of chickens and

cats. They have a distinctive charm and humor.

There are also

well-observed sketches of people sitting on a beach and children playing on the

ground. Recent ones depict Somboon's arrival at Pochentong airport and first

impressions of Cambodia.

Arriving at the gallery on Street 9, she

immediately starting sketching the fruit vendors and cyclo drivers around the

Kap Ko market next door. When they later wandered into the open gallery they

were fascinated to see themselves in the pictures.

Somboon has been

exhibiting her work in Bangkok since 1977 and had a show in Denmark in 1988.

Otherwise, she has seldom exhibited abroad and coming to Cambodia is a new

experience.

"I am looking forward to doing sketches around Angkor Wat,"

she said. She will spend a few days there before leaving the country at the

beginning of February. It will be interesting to see the results of her work at

Angkor in contrast to the repetitive paintings of the site currently available.

Canadian Ed Fitzgerald, who runs the gallery with Khmer partner Kim Seng

Rity, hopes to encourage Khmer artists to produce more original paintings than

they do at present.

He believes the anticipated influx of foreign

tourists and travelers will sustain an art market.

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