Cambodian artist and designer Em Riem’s new exhibition Hello Sally! was inspired by the abstract landscape and seascape paintings of Australian Aboriginal artist Sally Gabori.
The exhibition of 17 abstract paintings, which opened last night at The Plantation boutique hotel, took its name from Gabori, whose use of abstract painting heavily influenced Riem.
Gabori emerged on the art scene in 2005 using a traditional style in which coloured dots depict ancestral stories, but later transitioned into abstract art with bold and colourful paintings.
“I saw her paintings and I got the feeling that her work life and mine are similar,” Riem, 43, said.
“So after that, I tried to produce more abstract [works] and work harder in abstract painting.”
Using techniques that he had not used since his time at art school in France, Riem spent one year developing the Hello Sally! exhibition.
“I want to do something new besides drawing, something we can see,” he said. “This is the first time that I painted and put shadow as well as light into my colour line.”
Like Gabori, Riem is inspired by his natural surroundings, particularly the ocean, with some of his paintings depicting the movement of waves, coral and algae.
“For this exhibition, my theme is about happiness,” Riem said.
“I want people to look at it again and again and give their own thoughts of what it is.
“This is why I paint abstract; we have lots of freedom to draw and people might have different interpretations.”
The exhibition, which was only installed on Wednesday, has already had an effect, he added.
“The staff here, when they saw my paintings, they told me that they feel relaxed even though they have no idea of what it is or what the painting is about,” Riem said.
A fashion figure as well as artist, with upcoming works on the topic of beauty, Riem said he has a take-home message.
“I hope other artists and people will have confidence in their own work, know what they are doing and listen to themselves more,” he said.
The exhibition runs until October 20 at The Plantation, #28 Street 184