Sammaki Gallery, Battambang: Sokhom Roeun and Bo Rithy

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Batttambang is home to more artists than any other Cambodian city. The Sammaki Gallery in Battambang is the leading place for exhibitions. 

I meet Sokhom Roeun and Bo Rithy, two young Cambodian artists, during the presentation of their work at the gallery.

P1120040 (Medium)Sokhom Roeun was born in Battambang in 1987 and graduated from Phare Ponleu Selpak Visual Arts school in 2007. In 2013 he started the Battambang Arts Studio with his fellow Bo Rithy. Sokhom Roeun has exhibited in Thailand, France and Japan as well as further exhibitions in Cambodia. With his art, Sokhom wants his audience to understand about who he really is and what he thinks and feels about life and the world.
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He shows a salt and sugar installation.
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Salt represents bad persons and a strong taste. Sugar represents good persons, who are nice and beautiful.” He explains his installation with upside down dishes. “Culture and things are changing. People use things until they break. Some of the dishes have Cambodian design. My purpose is to show our culture which we are losing more and more day by day.”

P1120062 (Medium)Bo Rithy was born 1989 in the southern region of Kampuchea Krom near the Vietnamese border. In 2001 he moved to Battambang and in 2010 he got his diploma from the same art school like Sokhom Roeun and Mao Soviet. As mentioned above he started in 2012 the Battambang Arts Studio together with Sokhom Roeun. Rithy has exhibited in France and Thailand. He experiments with different styles and techniques and tries to capture the transition of his culture from traditional to modern.
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Now I want to focus in installations. Before I did paintings on canvas. I need some change for a while.”

Mao Soviet, Artist, Battambang

The Cambodian city of Battambang is reinventing itself after disappearing for a while in the darkness and blood shed of civil war. Old Battambang had a great tradition of art. Nowadays however, modern development is turning the city into a haphazard mess of poorly designed, garishly colored buildings. Beautiful old houses are knocked down, the streets are dirty and people seem to care more about themselves than their town and culture.

Mao Soviet, 32 years, and his wife Phin, 29 years, have the hope, that people will come to their senses, the great architecture will return and Battambang’s many artists will be able to transform the town into the jewel in Cambodias crown. Mao and Phin are two of the artists of Battambang. I meet them in their gallery Make Maek in the center of the city.
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In 1996 I started learning at Phare Ponleu Selpak, an artistic school at Battambang. After graduation in 2002 I had the feeling that I don`t know anything. I continued with my school education for 2 more years. After I worked as a freelance graphic designer until 2006. I decided to stop drawing because my style has been similar to my teacher’ s style. I didn’t like to draw like him. In 2010 I changed to sculpture work and in 2012 I added big and small installations to my art work. Now I am happy, I guess I found my style.”

P1110995 (Medium)Mao Soviet had exhibitions in the Phillippines, Singapore, France and the latest one in Hong Kong.

In the future I just want to be a free artist. I would like to see Battambang, my city, as the leading artist city in Cambodia.”
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