Artist Nout Daro wins top jury award but works by teenage women also draw notice to young talents
What is “independence”? Is it a political statement of autonomy from occupation or oppression? Is it a sense of liberation of spirit? Is it an awareness that one has the freedom to make personal choices?
The answer, of course, is “all of the above.” And in celebration of the 70th anniversary of Cambodia’s self-determination as an independent nation (in November), the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra has mounted a remarkable exhibition that encourages local Cambodian and expatriate artists to answer the question by means of their creations.
The exhibition of the Ekarieach Multi-Arts Competition will continue through February 10. It attracted 120 entries, of which just over half (61) were chosen for exhibit.
Phnom Penh teacher Nout Daro, 33, was awarded the jury prize of $3,000. His powerful acrylic-on-canvas work, My life my rule, presents a horned, godlike creature, wrapped in leaves and vines and holding a pink lotus flower — a statement of stark individuality that captures the harmony between humanity and nature. The work is so large (2 metres by 3 metres) that it was hung just inside the Sofitel’s main doorway rather than in the gallery,
Other top awards went to a pair of teen-agers. Melissa Quach, 15, won $1,000 and the public vote for a favorite work for I interweaved my past and my future, forging a path towards independent dawn. The oil painting portrays a young man wading through a river as he emerges from his own childhood with a vision of the future.
Ork Socheata, 18, won the Young Talent Prize of $500 for Once You’re on Your Own. A work in pencil and black marker on paper, it features a young person, released from chains, grasping a beating heart as butterflies flutter like original thoughts from an open skull.
In a short ceremony at the hotel, Pen Moni Makara, secretary of state for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, presented the awards.
The jury included Charles-Henri Chevet, area general manager, Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra; Pierre Rol, art consultant, Le Lézard Bleu; Jean Morel, advisor, ReCréation Cambodia; Chan Vietharin, professor, Royal University of Fine Arts; Valentin Rodriguez, director, French Cultural Institute; Casey Barnett, president, CamEd Business School; and H.E. Kérya Chau Sun, advisor, APSARA National Authority, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.