27 September 2021 | Written by Danielle KHLEANG
Quotes have been edited lightly for length and clarity.
Commissioned by Cambodian Living Arts to celebrate 10 years of the Arn Chorn-Pond Living Arts Scholarship program, “Artists in Bloom” is an exhibition of portraits and objects, representing 10 artists who have received scholarships since 2011 showing at Rosewood Phnom Penh‘s Art Gallery.
For CLA, the anniversary is both an opportunity to celebrate the 120+ scholars that have passed the program and an opportunity for Cambodia to recognize and celebrate the contribution of its arts sector:
In the last 2 decades we have seen a number of viral posts about the growing urbanization of Cambodia and countless success stories of business people. Stories of economic developments are always in the spotlight — but a society that develops without prioritizing the arts will miss the soul or creative spirit of its people. In this exhibition it’s refreshing to see the profile of these young artists that exist and how they fill this need in Cambodian society. Prim Phloeun, Executive Director, CLA
In “Artists in Bloom: Portraits of 10 Living Arts Scholars,” curator, SOVAN Philong and photographer, CHHEN Kimhong create a profile of Cambodian arts today that allows the audience to imagine how much more is possible with continued investments in the arts.
Through the portraits, common themes among the featured artists are revealed. From a commitment to self development, to the wish to inspire and influence others and a dedication to family and community. Though many of them have faced challenges, it’s clear from their stories that the scholarship plays an important role in nurturing young talent and making sure opportunities are not lost to build community and connection through the arts. This network of bright young people have and will continue to make a difference to Cambodia’s future through their creativity and passion.
Reflecting on the project, Philong said, “when CLA contacted me, I was very interested in the project but [how to capture the narrative] wasn’t immediately clear to me. It was more about the profile [of the artists] to present on the wall. In the end, the project became really about composing the picture, not taking it. To make the picture we think about the background, the audience, environment and lighting.” On collaborating with Kimhong, he added, “Kimhong is quite new and talented. With a background in graphic design and as an up and coming photographer, [CLA and I] decided to give this opportunity to the young artist to manage the creative idea.”
With this prompt, the two set-off with total creative freedom and returned with a body of work that combines the spaces of Cambodia with the portraits of the scholarship recipients to show a profile of Cambodia’s arts landscape today.
Please enjoy some snapshots of the exhibition below.
About the Curator and Photographer
SOVAN Philong, Curator – A celebrated photographer who was awarded a grant by the French government to study at École nationale supérieure Louis-Lumière in 2012. He is among the leading photographers of Cambodia with exhibitions nationally and across Asia and Europe. Philong recently won the Grand Prize of Wonder Foto Day 2019, an annual photography fair in Taipei.
CHHEN Kimhong, Photographer – Kimhong graduated from IIC University in 2018 and in 2019 joined “Studio Image” at Institut Français du Cambodge. There he participated in two more photography workshops, “Light” and “Pass.” Later, in 2021, he joined the exhibition “« Natte Nappe Mappe »” working with “Textiles.”
Inside Living Arts is a Living Arts Blog series highlighting our initiatives that invigorate a vibrant arts sector for society today and generations to come.