Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Trio of artists put dance on canvas



Trio of artists put dance on canvas

Chhan Dina’s work (bottom left) is colourful and figurative, while Chhim Sothy’s (above) is sometimes traditional and other times contemporary. In Robam, Suos Sodavy goes for full abstraction (bottom right). Photo supplied
Chhim Sothy’s work is sometimes traditional and other times contemporary. Photo supplied

Trio of artists put dance on canvas

Three acclaimed Cambodian visual artists – representing three generations – will display their work together on Tuesday in a celebration of traditional dance at Meta House. Robam (‘Dance’ in Khmer) will feature 11 oil paintings and one sculpture, each depicting Apsara dancers.

The artists – Dina Chhan, Chhim Sothy and Suos Sodavy – are some of Cambodia’s most accomplished, and have exhibited extensively abroad.

The three began organising their group exhibition after they were each honoured at the regional CLMTV Contemporary Art Awards at Mahasarakham University in Thailand in February, with Dina receiving the ‘young artist’ award for the Kingdom.

Suos Sodavy (left), Chhan Dina and Chhin Sothy.
Suos Sodavy (left), Chhan Dina and Chhin Sothy. Heng Chivoan

With little over a month to prepare, the 31-year-old painter and sculptor took the quick turnaround – as well as her experienced collaborators – as a challenge. “For them, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I can paint in one day,’” Dina said with a laugh this week. “For me, I’m still working.”

The artists each paint in different styles. Sodavy – a professor at the Royal University of Fine Arts and the oldest of the group at 60 – was trained in Hungary, and usually works in abstraction.

Sothy, who studied in Phnom Penh during the 1980s and currently serves in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, flits between the traditional and the contemporary. And Dina is known for her vibrant colours and brash human forms.

In Robam, the artists’ work coalesces in a distilled theme: the form and movement of traditional dance.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Chhan Dina’s work is colourful and figurative. Photo supplied

Dina’s canvasses are bathed in red and blue. She completed one sculpture for the exhibition, fired in clay, reinforced with concrete and painted in gold leaf. She says was inspired equally by the bas reliefs of Angkor and brass sculptures she saw at London’s British museum, but mostly by the dancers themselves.

“I like the emotion. It’s powerful,” she said, pointing to her red-robed dancer. “This woman, she is the queen of Cambodia.”

“Interpretations can be different,” Sothy piped in. “I’m not a dancer, but I like the dancing movements.” For Robam, three of his works verge on abstraction, while one is quite traditional: two dimensional, and intricately detailed.

Sodavy grew animated when speaking about Apsara dance. The theme was, after all, his idea. “I love so much the Cambodian dance. When you see the girl dancing, you fly with her,” he said, adding that he also enjoyed the interplay of one art, oil painting, portraying another.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
In Robam, Suos Sodavy goes for full abstraction. Photo supplied

His paintings are fully abstract, with forms based in individual gestures, or kbach, and present a striking contrast with the others’.

For the experienced artists who usually delve into social meaning with their work, Robam presents a unique opportunity for pure collaboration – and, the trio hope, to show a younger generation of artists the continuity in contemporary Cambodian art.

“It’s a big opportunity for us to share the experience, especially with the young generation,” Dina said. “It’s good to see this: that Cambodia grows, slowly.”

Robam opens at 6pm on Tuesday, April 26, at Meta House, #37 Sothearos Boulevard. The group exhibition will run through May 15.

MOST VIEWED

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Time to avert disastrous Covid situation: officials

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia is heading towards further large-scale community transmission as the total number of confirmed cases is nearing 61,000 and the death toll passed 900 on July 10, senior health officials warned. Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine expressed concern that the country was going

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Baby saved as mother is lost to Covid

    Newborn baby Neth David has had a rough start in the world. His mother, Vong Daneth, was seven months pregnant when she contracted a severe case of Covid-19. When it became clear to her doctors that she would not survive, they performed a cesarean section

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided