Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Khmer Traditional Art Painting Exhibition

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Khmer Traditional Arts Paintings Exhibition will open its doors for ten days over 19th to 28th February in Phnom Penh. The venue will be the Department of Plastic Arts and Handicrafts in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. It was organized by Chhim Sothy, professional painter, with support from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MoCFA).

“I am proud to be involved with such a rich and wide ranging exhibition,” said Meng Hour, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. “I think these paintings will provide an insight for both national and international visitors into the importance and values of Khmer identification and culture,” he said.

The Secretary of State added that the exhibition had helped his ministry place the preservation of traditional arts and culture back into the spotlight highlighted the value of the arts and handcrafts in Cambodia.

“I support his art works and I appeal to national and international visitors to buy his paintings as they are valuable artifacts of Cambodian culture,” he told the Cambodia Weekly during the event.

Artist Chhim Sothy, said there are over 40 paintings on display in the galleries. Sothy said that he executed these works in the traditional style over the course of a year.

The painter noted that all paintings depicted scenes of the Ramayana and incidents in Buddhist History. He said that the paintings range in size from 40 cm x 50 cm up to 101 cm x 142 cm. He added that the paintings cost between US$200 and US$1,500 per piece.

“This is the first exhibition of my paintings in the Department of Plastic Arts and Handcrafts,” he said. “The main objective of the exhibition is to promote my achievements and to sell my works to make money for further preservation in the world of Khmer arts and culture” he added.

A Japanese visitor, Michiharu Handa, 45 spoke of his interest in the works.

“I am highly impressed with the works on display here and I think I will be taking one home for my family”.

Chhim Sothy was born in Kandal province in 1969 and he had graduated from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, in 1996.

He worked in the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts from 1998-1999, applying his talents to landscape and furniture design. In 1999, he worked on a project with UNESCO Phnom Penh dealing with various aspects of the Khmer arts.

Sothy’s style reflects traditional sources combined with contemporary elements. Recently, he has tried breaking away from lessons learned in his student years to form his own manner of expression in paint. He often chooses to depict Buddhist themes or scenes from the Ramayana.

His works can be found in Cambodian collections as well as in France and Japan. He was chosen by ASEAN in 2000 to represent Cambodia. Art historians can find many of his works reproduced in Asian Art News, January-February, 2001.


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