an exhibition of 12 Cambodian artists
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 -