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Painter brings a hint of nature, and of his home, to the capital

Many of Riem’s abstract canvasses depict the sunset.
Many of Riem’s abstract canvasses depict the sunset. Vandy Muong

Painter brings a hint of nature, and of his home, to the capital

Artist and designer Em Riem launched his latest contemporary exhibition, My Homeland, last night at the Skylar condominiums on Koh Pich.

The series of eight abstract paintings is meant to express Cambodian culture through the natural landscapes of the country, Riem says.

“I am inspired by my feelings, and as an artist, I am responsible for mixing my experience and my view of reality into art pieces,” he says.

For the exhibition, Riem drew inspiration from his birthplace in Preah Sihanouk province. He says he imagined the changing seasons in the valley between the Pich Nil crest and Bokor mountain, and painted them.

Many of his acrylic canvasses are streaked with bright reds and oranges: he preferred to portray the natural surroundings just before and after sunset, he says.For Riem, his hometown provides a stark contrast to the noise and pollution of Phnom Penh, where he is based.

“I want Cambodian people to understand the important value of living in the provinces and the nearby mountains, even though they may now live in new houses in the city,” he says.

Riem’s paintings will remain on display for three months in the new apartment complex, which is in itself representative of the city’s modern development.

Riem is an artist of many trades, including painting, sculpture, fashion and interior design. “I always change my work to do different things,” he says.

He says it was a purposeful choice not to display the artwork in a gallery. The paintings themselves were drawn from some 15 years of work, and he selected them to fit with the interior design of the building.

Riem’s work can be found in hotels and restaurants around the capital. He says that he hopes his paintings appeal to both Khmer and foreign audiences.

For his next project, Riem adds, the theme will be the “death of nature”.

My Homeland is on at the Skylar condominiums on Koh Pich. The exhibition runs through January 24.

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