from the Cambodia Daily, May 3-4, 2005
Students' Creations Reconcile Classic And Contemporary Ideas
By Soojung Chang
and Chhim Sopheark
Reyum graduate Hout Vannak's painting "18 Monkey Commanders
Fight Wiyopaek To Free Preah Ream and Preah Leak"
School graduate Yok Chivalry dreams of creating a Cambodian
cartoon television series.
"I want to be
a well-known painter, a well-known cartoon artist" said the
19-year-old. "In Cambodia, we do not yet have cartoons [on
Yok Chivalry and 13 other young men lined up to receive
certificates of graduation from the school, which is part of
the Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture. They are the first
students to complete four levels of intense study at the
school, which offers free half-day art sessions five times a
week to students—many from s poor families—who show talent
held at the Reyurn art gallery, also marked the opening of
an exhibition of their J work The art now on display fleets
the program's curriculum, I which includes lessons in both
traditional and modem painting.
Some of the
traditional works depict characters from the Rearnker—the
Khmer version of the Indian epic tale Ramayana—in bright
costumes painted in water-color with intricate webs of fine
brush work that took months to complete.
In contrast several large and
distinctly modern pieces
reflect students' unique windows into undersea life, a
topic recently assigned in class, said Lim Vanchan, the
school's managing director.
He said that the school tries to
expose the students to new ideas and a variety of artistic
styles, to cultivate their creativity.
Not all of
the graduates, ranging in age from 17 to 22, have jobs yet
and some have not even graduated from public high schools.
But like Yok Chivalry, they seem hopeful about the future,
as they have already come a long way.
years ago, the school did not exist and a few of the
graduates were part of a disorderly group of neighborhood
children who were showing up at Reyum's events.
Some of the
children were shoe shiners or even thieves, said Ly Daravuth,
director of the institute, but "we became attached to them."
The Reyum staff rented an apartment next door to their
gallery and started inviting the kids to gather mere.
is, they were so wild," Ly Daravuth said The landlord kicked
them out and the staff found a new location for the
children—the school's current building, located in a small
alleyway across from the Royal University of Fine Arts'
school has about 120 students. In addition to classes, the
school has organized field trips, and obtained commissions
for students at the Municipal Orphanage, the National
Archives and the soon-to-be-opened US Embassy building.
Reyum student Hong Srey Sante-pheap, 19, works on a painting.
is hoping to find more paid commissions and other projects
for graduates to work on as a group. He and Van Sovanny,
general manager of the institute, are planning a workshop to
further the students' artistic development and to help them
in their career aspirations.
money to live. Being an artist is difficult in Cambodia,"
Lim Vanchan said.
of artists are not really rich men," Yok Chivalry said,
after outlining his plan to enroll in an associate degree
program in banking at a local university next year, after he
finishes high school His father and his siblings all work in
banks, but he said that his parents encourage him in his
"When I can
support them myself, I can paint Then it is easy to be a
well-known artist" he said with confidence.