Contemporary Khmer Art Show Captivates Australians

Photo provided by Yim Maline. 

SYDNEY – Young Cambodian artists have made a big splash in the international art world with an acclaimed exhibition in Australia.

The All That Surrounds Us exhibition at 16albermarle  gallery in Sydney shows works by contemporary Cambodian artists that explore their country’s complex history, future and place in the broader community of southeast Asia.

Eleven mostly young and mid-career artists are taking part in the exhibition alongside senior artist Yim Maline from Siem Reap.

Photo provided by Yim Maline. 

Gallery director John Cruthers, who has been visiting Cambodia since 2010, said, “There is no doubt that the country has had to rebuild contemporary art from a standing start.

“The people that did all the heavy lifting were the artist.  They have been responsible for a remarkable renaissance in art in Cambodia.

“It’s really remarkable how Australians have responded. They were astonished at the quality of the work.  It’s quite inspirational.”

Photo provided by Yim Maline. 

The exhibition includes works in many media – painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, photography, installation, video and works on paper – and from many parts of the country.

Maline said, “All artist use different materials and also have different reasons from each other. I think that this a very important point that they are brave to use new materials to show their real unique way on their own.

“I was happy to see the audience being blown away seeing contemporary Khmer art on the international stage.”

Photo provided by Yim Maline. 

Gallery visitors had almost never heard of contemporary Khmer art but now they had seen it live and had spoken of seeing new things beyond the Khmer Rouge or Angkor Wat, she said.

The exhibition had been important because most Cambodians didn’t know about contemporary art.

“This is a great opportunity to show all of the art works that we worked together between Cambodia and Australia on the international stage so that they could see the development of contemporary Khmer art to see the level we have reached.”

Photo provided by Yim Maline. 

Co-curator Lauren Barlow said, “Cambodia’s art scene is beginning to flourish, with artists like Sopheap Pich, Vandy Rattana and Khvay Samnang taking Cambodian art to the world.

“The younger artists unpack issues related to corruption, urban development, a growing urban/rural divide and ecological decline.

“Together, this new generation of artists raise critical questions around the future of Cambodia and its place in the region.”

In addition to introducing Cambodian art and artists to Australian audiences, the exhibition aims to broaden the artists’ exposure to Australian artists, museums, curators, academics, collectors, patrons and students.

The exhibition opened on Oct. 7 and runs until Nov 11.

Related Articles