Lacquered portrait paintings, wooden sculptures and a video installation of broken terracotta pots all feature in Three Artists in One Show, Park Hyatt Siem Reap’s first exhibition which opened on September 5.
The exhibition showcases the work of Battambang artist Mao Soviet, local resident Lim Muy Theam and, exhibiting for the first time in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh-based artist Amy Lee Sanford.
Insider got chatting to Lim Muy Theam about one of his larger pieces, Face, from the series Face K, The Dark Side, which he says took him several months to complete.
The huge, striking, close-up image of a man’s face is monochrome on a red background, created by applying layers of lacquer paint onto a photograph, then softened with “meticulous sanding.”
Theam says it was a complicated process to get the texture of the skin exactly right. The artist was fascinated by the differences and shades in Cambodian skin, and shocked to discover his subject, a farmer, was only 45, the same age as him. Theam says he would like to do more portrait work in the future.
Theam was also singing the praises of newcomer to Siem Reap, Cambodian-American Amy Lee Sanford, who was showing her video installation, From Above, Full Circle. The video depicts a performance Sanford did in Phnom Penh last year where she sat in a circle of forty pots and broke each one then meticulously put them back together with glue and string, over a period of six days.
Sanford says the piece is representative of various issues people face, and deals with the process of change.
Sanford, when two years old was sent to live in America by her father, an academic, just before the Khmer Rouge took over. Her father later disappeared along with many of her relatives.
Sanford acknowledges that some people may not ‘get’ her installation right away, but most are intrigued enough to ask.
“Some of the locals don’t understand it right off, but if I take a moment and explain the analogy of Cambodia, then they completely get it,” she says. Raised in Boston by her American stepmother, Sanford now lives in Phnom Penh and has exhibited in Cambodia, UK and US, including at this year’s Season of Cambodia festival in New York.
The third artist, Mao Soviet, is a Phare Ponleu Selpak graduate and is exhibiting After Year 1981, a series of wooden sculptures inspired by his pregnant wife when she was carrying their first child.
The small, tactile carvings are resin-treated and some painted with acrylic such as Mother, an eye-catching red work with a long, peaceful face reminiscent of a Modigliani sculpture.
According to his press material, Soviet places great importance on the family unit, particularly the mother figure. It says, “Family is of paramount importance to Soviet, he himself coming from a large family with ten members.”
The exhibition runs until November 22 at the Park Hyatt.