It is the honour of Yue-Tai Cambodia to here feature for your pleasure and edification a small selection of the recent works of the prominent and prolific artist Mr. Chhim Sothy. Master Sothy may not need much of an introduction for those familiar with the arts and culture scene in Phnom Penh where exhibitions and cultural events occur at an ever quicken frequency. For example, you can see more of Master Sothy’s work around town with the next event planned at Cambodia’s National Library on the 2nd of November (2018) among many other opportunities to enjoy the arts in this city.
In this small collection his impressions of life in, and the development of, the city of Phnom Penh are showcased. If you look carefully you will see locations of interest as well as commonplace but interesting scenes that will likely be lingering with you long after your visit to this city is over. While these works are notably modernist in style they are only one direction of many the artist has explored and mastered over the years. We know you will enjoy these works and be as intrigued by them as we are.
What is most notable in many of Master Sothy’s works is a deep sense of Gemeinschaft – a sense of the life of the people. And having met him I can tell you that the artist is just that - a kind and affable soul - that has a deep love for his people and the land and city they inhabit.
His story mirrors that of his nation, rising up in the aftermath of the brutal horror of the Khmer Rouge period to rebuild and reclaim its destiny. Likewise from very humble beginnings Master Sothy managed first to get the opportunity to study at Phnom Penh’s renown Cambodia Royal University of the Fine Arts, taking advantage of all that was offered there in mastering styles ranging from traditional Khmer Buddhist iconography to the latest modernist styles prevalent in Europe and the west, and establishing himself as a pillar of the arts community here with awards and accolades too many to list. (See www.chhimsothy-artist.com).
However one great honour stands out – he is a regular invitee to the International Art Biennale and if you are in China you will get a chance to see him and his work presented at the next (8th) International Art Biennale to be held in Beijing in 2019 (Aug. 26th through Sept. 23rd - see www.bjbiennale.com.cn ). He will appear there to exhibit a work on “A Colorful World and A Shared Future” themes. In addition other notable artists from Cambodia will appear with the assistance of Yue-Tai in the form of a travel grant.
Today Master Sothy continues to produce a wide range of works of art as well as serve as a director in the Department of Fine Arts and Handicrafts, in Cambodia’s Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, where he modestly works to chronicle and promote the artistic culture of this country he loves. We think in time you will come to love this country too.
New Phnom Penh
Today, Phnom Penh’s skyline is ever changing and in this piece we get a glimpse at both the present and future where sky-rises and towers populate the horizon here at night.
One of Phnom Penh’s most important landmarks is here instantly recognisable but we are also treated to an impression of the buzz and life and light of the popular evening location strewn with festive lights and serving as a hub of traffic.
What is this you ask? Actually it is still a common sight in older parts of the city where many people have plugged and patched in their line to the power grid on their own. In a few years this will be a relic of a bygone age in the city’s development.
Central Market at Night
Here is a night view of Phnom Penh’s iconic Central Market building that was build in 1937 in the French Art Deco style popular during the colonial period. It still serves as a magnet of activity as seen here humming with light and activity, foot traffic and the ubiquitous umbrellas of vendors.
One of the blights of Phnom Penh is periodic traffic gridlock in streets originally designed for a much lower population and fewer vehicles. Here the artist shares his impression of the “stacking” of cars on the streets. However it is not an entirely negative experience – you may find that you can observe a corner of life and commerce in the city that carries on by foot which you may never have noticed otherwise.
Life on the Old Building
This work depicts what you might see in front of any old residential building at night in Phnom Penh. There are street vendors and people milling around buying food and socialising.