Scales weigh in favour of Angkor art show

Scales weigh in favour of Angkor art show

Despite scandalising some members of the audience, an end to free wine for guests at Hôtel de la Paix art show launches failed to dampen enthusiasm at the opening night of a joint exhibition featuring the work of Phnom Penh-based visual artist Chan Dany and sculptor and miniature maker Dy Proeung.

Titled Scales of Angkor, the art by the duo is inspired by the architecture of Cambodia’s temples. It ranges from small inscriptions and religious symbols blown up into large mosaics by Chan Dany, to a replica model of Banteay Srei temple which Dy Proeung constructed over seven months in his Siem Reap workshop.

Among the opening night crowd were officials from the Apsara Authority, including director general Bun Narith who congratulated Dy Proeung on the complexity of his Banteay Srei model, one of a series of eight he began working on in 1995 following his retirement from a career in temple conservation.  

Bun Narith said: “I feel very happy seeing what you’ve created. You know the temples very well and art like this can teach young Cambodians about the value of our heritage.”

Chan Dany’s work features renderings of religious symbols inscribed on the walls of Angkorian temples which he constructed out of layered pencil shavings on canvas.

Chan Dany told 7Days that he first hit upon the technique while completing an assignment at Reyum Art School which required students to create an artwork out of recycled materials.

“The deadline was approaching and I had no idea what to give to my teacher so I went to look in the rubbish bin outside. I found a whole lot of pencil shavings which I laid out on a canvas and then started to assemble as shapes. I took a picture of what I was working on and my teacher loved it and ordered me to start making more like it.”

This led him to create a series of paintings using the same technique which were featured in his 2007 exhibition In Transition, which was later shown internationally.

Chan Dany said each painting takes, on average, between one and two weeks to complete, depending on the complexity of the symbols represented.

Curator Sasha Constable said the exhibition brings together “the works of one of the few old masters to have survived the Khmer Rouge regime with those of one of the bright young artists of the burgeoning Cambodian art scene”.

This is a view shared by Dy Proeung, who praised the work of his younger exhibition partner.

Dy Proeung said he was continuing to work his series of temple models and was nine months into the construction of a 10-metre-squared replica of Bayon temple, which he estimates will
cost $20,000 to complete.

“I want to finish my series of models before I die,” he said.

Dy Proeung’s scale model of Banteay Srei was dismantled at his workshop and transported to the Arts Lounge in three trucks, arriving at the same time an 18-metre wooden boat from a previous exhibition was leaving.

Scales of Angkor is showing at the Hôtel de la Paix Arts Lounge from May 5 to July 5.

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