Gallery with a difference set to wow well-heeled visitors

Gallery with a difference set to wow well-heeled visitors

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French photographer and gallery owner Thierry Diwo.

French expat photographer Thierry Diwo launched his new gallery last Sunday by invitation only.

La Petite Indochine, which took two years to build, is the only Siem Reap gallery on the fringe of town.

As well as Thierry’s photos, his collection of about 80 quality replicas of old Khmer statues will be also be on display.

“Most replicas here are bad quality,” Diwo said. “I have copies in stone, bronze and wood of originals from Musée Guimet in Paris, which has the best collection of Khmer art in the world. I also have reproductions of a private collection in New York, made by the best local artisans.”

He hopes to attract groups from five-star hotels to his gallery, which is located on the ground floor of his secluded house.

He will regale visitors with lectures on Cambodia, Khmer art and Buddhism, as well as provide a meal and a browse of his collection.

“My idea was to do something cultural,” Diwo explained. “It's not a shop but I need to sell, so I’d like to do both. I am the first person to open a gallery outside town, so when tourists come here this will be special. I have also been asked to do lectures as a form of cultural tourism”

Diwo, his wife Sokha and daughter Lea moved to Siem Reap three years ago. He has lived mostly in Cambodia for the past 17 years and worked as a freelance photographer in his former life in Paris.

While there he mainly shot portraits of dancers but also covered some haute couture and ready-to-wear fashion shows for labels like YSL, Dior, Chanel and Gaultier for magazines.

He originally moved to Phnom Penh to take up a posting at the Royal University of Fine Arts. Since then, he has had six books published, in English and French, of photographs taken at Angkor and elsewhere on subjects from Buddhism to everyday Cambodian people.

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