Cambodia's own recent history seems to be in more than one mind throughout the Cambodian art scene currently. That said, there is something very distinguishing about Leang Seckon's new exhibition SKIN currently showing at Java Café and Gallery.
In Cambodian art, Seckon's evolution as an artist is ubiquitous. The work in SKIN is an accumulation of the artist's aesthetic, technical ability and thought process, which for some, collectors and fans alike, has brought him to a pinnacle in his already established career.
I admit that I always thought "blind artist" was an oxymoron. I admit that I still don't understand how it works, that I look at it like some kind of prestidigitation. But it's not. It's just an artist with another point of view. Chng Seok Tin is just that, blind with a point of view. Her primary medium is printmaking. Rolling Red Dust / Bottom of My Heart is a show with four parts. The main part is a mini-retrospective of her prints: dry-points and etchings. Some were made before she went blind in 1978, most were made afterward.
The Bophana Audio Visual Resource Centre is exhibiting the work of photography students of Sala La Valla School. The photographs document the quotidian life of these kids. The portraits of their friends and of each other give you a feeling that you are looking deep into the mind of the subject. There are photographs of kids being kids and doing funny things.
If you want to see a truly unique painting exhibit, go see the funky new show at Gasolina. This exhibition of paintings was created by the Japanese artist Mitsushima Takayuki for the Spotlight Inclusive Arts Festival. What makes them so special? Well, they don't really look like anything else you've seen lately; they don't look like they borrow from current trends or styles; they may not even borrow from old trends or styles. They're comprised of recognizable objects, bright and contrasting colors. They are well composed in a classical sense, and well drawn.
The "Spotlight" festival of inclusive arts hosted by Epic Arts has set the bar for cultural events seeking to engage a mainstream audience with a socially transforming message. One ongoing component of this diverse collaboration by performers from around Asia, has been the very intriguing "Box Experiment".
The aptly named Box Experiment commissioned three young and emerging Cambodian artists to investigate issues of disability and shared humanity through the medium of contemporary sculpture.
XEM Design has opened a new gallery called La Galerie on Street 178 next to Le Deli. They propose to mix design and fine art into one very nice space. The first show is, as you would expect, part design and part visual art.
EMRiem, a graduate of the Royal University of Fine Art, shows why he is one of Phnom Penh's up and coming young artists. There is no doubt that he has an exceptional feel for two dimensions. His virtuosity with imagery is clearly displayed through his three groups of paintings.
The Drawing Room is a funky little show brought to you by Phnom Penh's resident contemporary curators Ali Sanderson and Panca Evenblij. The show is what the title suggests: a play on words. This is not a show to support poor, disadvantaged Cambodian artists; it's a show to bring a broader meaning to contemporary art in Phnom Penh. You may have seen a show like this somewhere else but you haven't seen one here. It's a show that basically asks a question: What is drawing? And then it tries to have fun answering the question.
Art and politics can often make for a heady mix. Make that art about a country's identity and culture post genocide made by foreign artists, and some could ask "why?"
German artists in residence Horst Hoheisal and Sebatian Brandt have successfully made a connection with enough rigor and substance for even the least art savvy being to understand and experience. Their installation is Part 2 of the Art of Survival exhibition currently showing at Metahouse Gallery in Phnom Penh.