Through Our Eyes”
an exhibition of 12 Cambodian artists

Opening reception, October 9, 2008



"Through Our Eyes" is an exhibition of new paintings by twelve contemporary Cambodian artists who have long been associated with Reyum Gallery. Some participated in "The Legacy of Absence" (2000) which reflected on Cambodia's traumatic past, and all of them participated in "Visions of the Future" (2002) which imagined Cambodia's near future. This exhibition bridges the gap in between these two exhibitions, examining Cambodia in the present through their eyes; interpretations that remain colored by recent history and hope for the future.

Here we see a combination of painting styles that represent Cambodia's history: from traditional Cambodian ornamental forms to post-colonial French impressionism, Soviet-bloc social realism to conceptual work. Traditional subject matter is seen here through a veil of nostalgia, ever present in the imagination and in notions of what it means to be Cambodian still today. Representational techniques show us scenes of everyday life that invoke empathy and recognition, moments which theoretically could be from the past but remain an accurate portrayal of Cambodia's present. The stillness and the poetry of moments captured invite sentimentality, but also an understanding of how real and how common suffering is in this country.

Artists are in the unique position of observing and creating outside of simple divisions between past, present and future. Cambodia's present is an intersection. Now almost a decade after "The Legacy of Absence" which dared artists-most for the first time-to confront the complex consequences of the Khmer Rouge era, these twelve Cambodian artists attempt to rise out of the culture of survival and present a culture of the living. This art represents the spirit of what is alive in Cambodia now, in the hearts and minds of these practicing artists. This is not a denial of their painful history but rather a refusal to be limited by their history.

Curatorial conception: Reyum
Text: Miwa Ikemiya, Asian Cultural Council Fellow
Artists: Chan Lay Heng, Chhim Sothy, Chhoeun Rithy, Duong Saree, Hen Sophal,
Khun Sovanrith, Prom Vichet, Soeung Vannara, Som Sophon, Sous Sodavy, Tum Saren,
and Venn Savat. 

With the support of:
The Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation – The Rockefeller Foundation -
The Prince Claus Fund