Masters at work

Contemporary art is thriving once again in the Kingdom with a new generation of artists helping to build the country’s creative future. Here, Reaksmey Yean, an art professional and assistant curator at Java Arts, picks four of his favourite Cambodian visual artists

Leang Seckon (born 1974 in Prey Veng)

Reaksmey says: “Seckon works between performance, painting, sculpture, installation, video, collage and embroidery. Reconciliation, transcendence and modernism are themes that have driven his art. Since 2009, Seckon has created a series of autobiographical narratives against the backdrop of Cambodia’s past and present, socio-political, socio-cultural and socio-economic settings. I like how he transforms religious material into a contemporary language.”

Chov Theanly (born 1985 in Battambang)

Reaksmey says: “Theanly is a young, self-taught artist whose painterly characteristic was inspired by Cambodian landscape artists, Russian social realism, local sign painters and prominent 1960s Cambodian artist Nhek Dim. Theanly’s work investigates his surroundings through his own political and philosophical filter, depicting them in both a realistic and abstract manner. He is an honest artist, and his practice is very meditative, requiring a lot of commitment and attention.”

Neak Sophal (born 1989 in Takeo)

Reaksmey says: “Sophal is the only female contemporary photography artist that I know. Her works highlight social issues and the idiosyncrasies of Cambodian culture, with a strong focus on the stories and memories of her photographic subject. Her photographic works often critique, counter and challenge the status quo of Cambodia’s social… setting. Although she does not publicly admit it, I regard her as a feminist photographer, as she has been working a lot around the subject of women and sexism.”

Pen Robit (born 1991 in Battambang)

Reaksmey says: “Robit is a product of Phare Ponleu Selpak art school and one of Battambang’s emerging contemporary artists. Influenced by Jackson Pollock’s painting style, the drip, Robit’s work explores contemporary Cambodia’s social and political setting by using the texture of a chequered krama. The krama is a traditional Cambodian textile that has been used in everyday life for centuries, if not millennia. Robit’s work is a representation of Cambodia’s social and political fabric – the old, present and new.”

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