Art Radar Asia

Contemporary art trends and news from Asia and beyond

  • Photobucket
  • About Art Radar Asia

    Art Radar Asia News conducts original research and scans global news sources to bring you selected topical stories about the taste-changing, news-making and the up and coming in Asian contemporary art.
  • Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘Cambodian contemporary art’

Sa Sa Gallery and Art Project, new artist-run initiatives in Cambodia

Posted by artradar on July 8, 2010


CAMBODIAN EMERGING ARTISTS ARTIST-RUN SPACES PHOTOGRPAHY

In 2009, a group of artists and photographers called Stiev Selapak founded Sa Sa Art Gallery, Cambodia’s first artist-run gallery. The programming focuses on emerging Cambodian contemporary artists. With the idea of wanting to promote the Cambodian contemporary art by supporting emerging Cambodian artists, Stiev Selapak started a new non-commercial initiative in early 2010, the Sa Sa Art Project.

Art Radar Asia spoke with Vuth Lyno, manager of Sa Sa Art Gallery, to find out more about this remarkable and influential group, gallery and project.

Chhin Taingchhea, Untitled, from Old Building series, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Chhin Taingchhea, 'Untitled', "Old Building" series, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Stiev Selapak formed to share ideas

Artist group Stiev Selapak was formed by six Cambodian artists and photographers in 2007, after meeting at a photography workshop. The ideal behind the group is to share, to communicate and to learn together. Three of the members graduated from the Royal University of Fine Arts and the other members came from various backgrounds.

Vuth Lyno, Sa Sa Art Gallery’s manager, for example, began his career in the arts as an information technology and communications specialist. In his work, he was required to take photographs for promotional communications which lead to a desire to explore artistic photography.

“Later on I realised that photography is not just about taking photos of happy people. I wanted to show real lives of people. For me that was the entry point.” Vuth Lyno, speaking with Art Radar Asia.

Vuth Lyno, Untitled, from Reflect series, 2007. Image courtesy of   the artist.

Vuth Lyno, 'Untitled', "Reflect" series, 2007. Image courtesy of the artist.

Each of the members implement their projects individually, but also work together. As Lyno elaborates: “Sometimes we would go out, take photos and document, review and show them to each other, comment and share what could be improved in a way where we could reflect [on] our personal inner perspectives.”

Sa Sa Art Gallery is founded

Stiev Selapak opened Sa Sa Art Gallery in early 2009. Significantly, Sa Sa is an abbreviation of Stiev Salapak, who are also known as the Art Rebels. For the group, the name Art Rebels did not find meaning in rebelling, but saw it more as wanting to do something new. “We want to introduce contemporary photography to people here and promote it to a wider audience,” Lyno divulges.

In the beginning, the group wanted to find a space which they could work in. Having some support, they could start having exhibitions. Mostly these events showcased photographic works, but the group soon realised that it was not only about Stiev Selapak, it was also about Cambodian artists and Cambodian contemporary photography.

“I believe that we contribute to the local art scene. When we had finished our creation of Sa Sa [Art Gallery] we had attended a one year photography workshop; we had group exhibitions together from all the students graduating from the class. That for me was the big step into the scene, when we look at it from the contemporary photography side.” Vuth Lyno, speaking with Art Radar Asia.

In Cambodia, most of the galleries are foreign-owned. Being artists themselves, the members of Stiev Selapak felt that Cambodian artists did not have a productive and equal relationship with these galleries. They commonly felt they needed a space that was Cambodian-owned, independent and that helped other artists.

Creating the gallery, the founders did not only exhibit their own works, but also work from other local artist groups. Though the size of the gallery is limited, they can still present and sell a decent-sized body of work. ”It’s a matter of how we can present that. So far we’ve exhibited a lot of photography, but we also show paintings and drawings,” Lyno elaborates.

Kong Vollak, Untitled, from Building 2 drawing series, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Kong Vollak, 'Untitled', "Building 2" series, 2009. Image courtesy of the artist.

Sa Sa Art Project – a haven for experimental art practice

Earlier this year, Stiev Selapak founded a non-commercial initiative called the Sa Sa Art Project. This project is dedicated to experimental art practice and can accommodate installation art, residencies, meetings, and classes. The main goal is simple – to create opportunities for young artists to realise new ideas, to share their experiences and knowledge, as well as to educate the next generation about art.

One of the main activities of the project is inviting new and emerging artists to live and work at the Sa Sa Art Project’s space. Here they can experiment with new ideas free of any of the limitations normally encountered in commercial galleries. Each residency ends with a short exhibition. One drawing class every week is also held under the project which caters to students and local artists.

Both the Sa Sa Art Gallery and the Sa Sa Art project were created and founded by  Stiev Selapak, but what sets them apart from each other is that the gallery is operating commercially, hosting artist talks and welcoming students. The gallery focuses on showcasing emerging Cambodian contemporary artists’ bodies of work. The art project’s aim is to foster a community of knowledge sharing among artists. It tries to create opportunities for new artists, but also works as an educational program.

Funding and support in the Cambodian art industry

Finding spaces for the gallery and the project was easy, but the more challenging task was finding sustainable funding. In early March this year, Stiev Selapak organised a fundraiser so that they could continue with the programming of the gallery and to expand activities for the art project. Though they sometimes depend on the support from the public, most of the time the founders fund the gallery themselves. Since it is run with minimal funding and minimal resources, their communication and marketing are limited as well.

At the moment, the Sa Sa Art Gallery doesn’t operate on the same scale as other galleries in Cambodia, who represent a number of artists. Sa Sa is limited to representing the founders of Stiev Selapak and a few other artists they have close relationships with. One of the founders, internationally-known artist Vandy Rattana, is one of the more exposed artists in the group, exhibiting his works in Asia and in the U.S.

Vandy Rattana, Untitled, from Fire of the Year series, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist.

Vandy Rattana, 'Untitled', "Fire of the Year" series, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist.

“We have a new wave of artists and photographers coming now, continuing their practices in contemporary photography.” Vuth Lyno, speaking with Art Radar Asia.

One big difference in the Cambodian art scene is that ten years ago there were maybe a couple of contemporary art galleries, a number which has increased significantly over the past few years. Having the experience of creating and starting a gallery, Lyno’s advice would be to consider the idea carefully.

“Putting on an exhibition might not generate enough funds to continue running the gallery. Those who wish to start thinking of opening a gallery need to consider it carefully in terms of marketing [and] connections with buyers and collectors. These approaches have been adopted by many other galleries in town already. There are many gallery/restaurant/café [establishments]. My approach when I mean art gallery, [I mean] a clean gallery where they can appreciate the art.”

Neighbouring countries are more established and more systematic in terms of the development of their arts industries. The founders of Stiev Salapak believe that artists should make an effort to engage with each other in order to learn more. As there is almost no support from the government for the art in Cambodia, artists need to make the effort to create opportunities for themselves in the Southeast Asian region as well as in Cambodia itself. In saying this, although the art scene in Cambodia is relatively new, there has been a significant advancement in recent years.

The main goal for Stiev Salapak has always been to promote Cambodian contemporary art and by doing that, they support emerging artists. As Lyno states, this original idea has not changed. It has evolved into something bigger, meaning that the idea has evolved into something that can now accommodate and support Cambodian artists adequately.

“When we started as a group, we thought we wanted to create a new way of contemporary photographing and to support that we needed a space. Later on we realised it was not about our group, but about Cambodian artists, new emerging artists, the Cambodian contemporary art scene and [making a contribution] to the art scene. We also wanted to welcome other artists. That’s why we created the art project, so we can engage more emerging artist to realise their ideas; to create opportunities for them to experiment [with] their new ideas without any limitations.” Vuth Lyno, speaking with Art Radar Asia.

JAS/KN

Related Topics: artist-run spaces, Southeast Asian artists, photography

Related Posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia for more on Southeast Asian art spaces

Bookmark  and Share

Advertisements

Posted in Art spaces, Artist-run, Artists as curators, Business of art, Cambodia, Cambodian, Emerging artists, From Art Radar, Groups and Movements, Photography, Promoting art, Venues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

5 60s and 70s born contemporary Cambodian artists in documentary show Forever Until Now

Posted by artradar on March 12, 2009


CAMBODIAN CONTEMPORARY ART

This post features introductory profiles of 5 Cambodian contemporary artists born in the 1960s and 1970s in the 14 artist historic group show curated by Cambodia-based curator Erin Gleeson, Forever Until Now which aims to document the development of Cambodian contemporary art.

This group of artists spent their formative years during and after the Pol Pot regime 1975 – 1979, in some cases in exile. This regime killed the majority of educated people and it is estimated that 90% of artists were lost.

Hobbled for years by political repression as a result of the Pol Pot regime, the art scene in Cambodia is only now beginning to flourish and gain attention beyond its borders. Even today there are only 50 or so practising artists in a Kingdom of 14 million people.

Rithy Panh, film maker

Rithy Panh, film maker

  • Rithy PANH (1964) – documentary film director – he has made more than 10 award-winning works which focus on the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime. In 1979 he escaped to France at age 15 having lost his parents and his sister. As a young refugee he wanted to forget the past and reject all ties with Cambodia. Eventually he found that the only way he could rebuild a life was to face what had happened to himself, his family and country. In this show his chilling 2003 documentary S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine reunites Khmer Rouge prison guards with their innocent captives. It stars S-21 survivor Vann Nath who is an artist also exhibiting in the show Forever Until Now.
Sopheap Pich, Duel, bamboo

Sopheap Pich, Duel, bamboo

  • Sopheap PICH (1971) – Sopheap Pich is another of a number of Cambodian immigrant artists who have returned to Cambodia after a period of years abroad and is probably the best known contemporary Cambodian artist outside Cambodia. He has been influential in bringing conceptual art and the practise of art criticism to Cambodia which has no history of art theory or analysis. His family fled Cambodia in 1979 when the Vietnamese army invaded the country and ousted Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. They spent 4 years in refugee camps and when Sopheap Pich was 13 his family emigrated to the US where against their wishes he studied art. In 2002 he returned to Cambodia for a visit and immediately felt he had arrived home. His art concerns itself with the complex economic and social transitions which his country is now undergoing. Originally working in paint, Pich began to feel that his work was not connecting with his people and seeking a new direction began to sculpt using rattan and cigarette packets. When he saw a picture which his girlfriend took of him working with the rattan, his happiness was evident and he realised he had discovered his medium. Many of his rattan sculptures refer to human organs such as lungs and stomachs because Cambodians have a lot of health problems, particularly stomach problems after the poor nutrition resulting from the Pol Pot repression.
Leang Seckon, Three Greens, Acrylic on canvas

Leang Seckon, Three Greens, Acrylic on canvas

  • LEANG Seckon (1974) – collage artist – Known as the Basquiat of Cambodia, he is perhaps the artist who is most well known to local Cambodians having popularized The Rubbish Project his ongoing work with communities around Cambodia to raise awareness about the environment. His most recent project Naga 2008 was a 225 meter serpent made of bamboo and reclaimed clear plastic installed in the Siem Reap River for World Water Day. Leang has four pieces of collage work in this show dealing with political and social change. In Gam Chendal he pieces together images representing periods of Cambodian history including the French Protectorate, Japanese occupation, Independence, the Civil War, the Khmer Rouge Regime, Vietnamese rule, United Nations Transitional Authority and the current constitutional monarchy. Three Greens on the other hand is a light comment on the adjustment of people to new rules: the greens refer to traffic lights which have appeared in Cambodia only in the last two years.
Khavay Samnang, Reminder, Video projection

Khavay Samnang, Reminder, Video projection

  • KHVAY Samnang (1977)  – photography, video – Khvay is a teacher in a rural province who is acutely aware of the information gap about the Khmer Rouge era in the Ministry of Education certified history books.  The youngest generation learns about this time only through the ubiquitous iconic black and white mug shots of prisoners at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison where fourteen thousand people died. While performing the task of photographing nearly 1,000 school children for their diplomas he noted 2 dominant reactions: shyness typical of youth and a more culturally specific repsonse, resistance to being portrayed as a prisoner. His video projection ‘Reminder’ shows shot after shot of identically-dressed school children in a comment on how in an individual photograph, a person can retain his or her identity but if there is more than one image of a person ie a repeated image,  this becomes a reference to and reminder of prison mugshots and Cambodia’s suffering during the Khmer Rouge repression.

denis-vantha-min-kim-duel-1

  • Denis Vantha MIN-KIM (1978) – Min-Kim studied art at various schools in France and in 2001 moved to Phnom Penh where he worked on a large scale in black Chinese ink on canvas for two years. Min-Kim’s new series ‘Duel’ is an exploration of his interest in the fight of the Reamker, a Khmer story based on the Indian Hindu epic Ramayana. By painting multiple fighters and stances in the same ring, he references the ancient art form of Pradal Serey – a unique form of Southeast Asian martial arts characterised by shifting fight stances. At the same time it portrays Min-Kim’s personal experience adjusting to the complexities of modern day Cambodia.

This is the second post in a 3 part series covering the historic documentary show Forever Until Now at Chancery Lane Gallery.

Related categories: political art, collage

Related posts:

Subscribe to Art Radar Asia to stay up to date with developments in contemporary art

Posted in Cambodian, China, Emerging artists, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Human Body, Identity art, Overviews, Political, Prison, Profiles, Social, Surveys | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Historic show documents development of Cambodian art – Forever Until Now

Posted by artradar on March 9, 2009


CAMBODIAN ART SHOW

In a unique documentary and historic show, Cambodian-based curator Erin Gleeson brings the works of  14 Cambodian modern and contemporary artists  to 10 Chancery Lane Gallery in Hong Kong. This post is the first in a three part series.

 Sopheap Pich, Cycle 2008

Forever Until Now – 10 Chancery Lane, Hong Kong to 25 April 2009

The ground-breaking show aims to provide an overview of the evolution of experimental and contemporary art in Cambodia and covers 3 generations of artists born between 1933 and 1988.

What prompted the exhibition? 

Dealer Katie de Tilly began planning the exhibition last summer when she took an exploratory trip to Cambodia  and was shown around by bamboo sculptor Sopheap Pich and  US- born curator Erin Gleeson who has been based in Cambodia for the last 5 years. Whereas Thailand and Vietnam have been receiving international exposure for some time, Cambodian contemporary artists are on the cusp of  interntional recognition. The work of Cambodian artists will be shown for the first time at the up-coming Asia Pacific Triennial 2009.

 Why is Cambodian art getting attention now?

Until a decade ago contemporary art in Cambodia simply did not exist but after the opening of the Reyum Institute of Art and Culture in 1998 and other galleries such as Java Cafe, more cutting-edge works began to emerge among the traditional works of silk weavings, silver and stone sculptures.

It has been over 30 years since the 1979 toppling of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot’s totalitarian regime. During the last decade Cambodia has enjoyed a period of political stability which has allowed an opening up to external cultural influences and a gradual blooming of the art scene.

During the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979 a dozen or so artists left the country to study abroad  but when they returned there was little art infrastructure to support their practice.

Despite an absence of government funding for the arts, international collectors are beginning to become aware of the significant changes in Cambodian art practice thanks to the activities of private galleries (from Thailand in particular), curators ( like Erin Gleeson who established the artist resoure centre Bassac in Phnom Penh last year) and artists themselves such as Sopheap Pich who was selected for the Best of Discovery section at Shanghai Art Fair in 2008.

The artists

The artists fall into three groups. The first group only – artists born in the 1950s or before –  are covered in this post.

The following artists born from 1930s – 1950s  were formative in the development of today’s Cambodian contemporary art because each in different ways appropriated new sources of inspiration. Grandfather of art, Svay Ken focuses on the immediate and everyday instead of the sublime whereas Vann Nath’s dark  heavy work reflects the experiences of terror and torture which Cambodia suffered during Pol Pot. Stylistic development is apparent in the comic art and illustration work of Em Satya while Duang Saree is influential for innovating the traditional motifs and representations in temple art into new forms which better reflect contemporary society.

 Svay Ken, Flood at the Wedding, oil

  • SVAY Ken (1933-2008) – painter – Known locally by the respectful title Lok Ta (grandfather), Svay was remarkable for turning away from traditional art practice glorifying ancient monuments and rural landscapes and depicting in his rough self-taught style the every day moments and objects of Cambodian life. His work as a porter at the lavish Raffles hotel led to sales of his art to tourists which in time evolved into international recognition. He is collected by Fukuoka Asian Art Musuem, the Singapore Art Museum and the Queensland Art Gallery. He will represent Cambodia in the 6th Asia Pacific Art Triennial 2009.

Vann Nath, Pray for Peace, oil 

 

  • VANN Nath (1946) – one of the most honoured figures in Cambodia he is one of 7 survivors of the Khmer Rouge’s secret prison known as S-21 where 14,000 people were tortured and executed during the 1975-79 Pol Pot regime. His jailors spared his life so that he could be put to work painting and sculpting portraits of Pol Pot. Vann Nath typically paints the dark and violent events he has witnessed.

 

Duong Saree, Kbach Tonle Sap 2, watercolour

Duong Saree, Kbach Tonle Sap 2, watercolour

  • DUONG Saree (1957) – Duong Saree is a renowned teacher and innovator of Cambodian Traditional Painting. Over 6 months in 2007 she completed the largest traditional painting in Cambodia (outside the Royal Palace Walls). What is interesting about Duong Saree’s practice is that she is evolving the traditional motifs of temple painting  – usually strictly adhered to – in order to better represent the contemporary world. In this show she innovates new forms for water to complement the five surviving representations of water found in temples.

 

Em Satya, Deadly Curse of the Diamond, Watercolour

Em Satya, Deadly Curse of the Diamond, Watercolour

  • EM Satya (1952) – a comic artist – Cambodian comics first appeared in the 1960s taking inspiration from the style of French and the colour of Indian comics. He is best known as “Nono” the pseudonym under which he drew caricatures and political cartoons for newspapers in the 1990s. His newest graphic novel Flower of Battambang (2006) is already seen as a contemporary classic.

This is the first of a three-part series on this show.

Related posts


Subscribe to Art Radar for the latest developments in Asian contemporary art

 

 
 
 

Posted in Bamboo, Cambodian, Cartoon, China, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Illustration, Museum collectors, Political, Profiles, Social | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »