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Artist turns to watercolours to explore life

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Artist turns to watercolours to explore life

Artist Channa Chhum displays a clear change in his method of expression in his new exhibition at Mirage Contemporary Art Space in Siem Reap town.

With “My Life”, Battambang native Chhum has shifted his focus from scenes of rural Cambodia to the very nature it relies on to explore the emotions that result from discouragement and discrimination, using watercolours for its “accessibility”.

‘I chose watercolour painting for its colour and because it is unique, yet accessible."

“It perfectly captures what inspired me to paint – each individual painting in this body of work is related to my personal life story, growing up with maltreatment, discouragement, and discrimination."

“I want people to understand what lies at the root of these emotions and the feelings which sprout from them,” Channa says.

Six new paintings from the artist are being shown at Mirage on Oknha Oum Chhay Street, in what will be the first exhibition at the gallery’s new location and will help mark its second anniversary.

“My current paintings are very different from my previous ones, both in their emotional and physical connection,” Channa says.

“In this body of work, I intend to capture and revel in the leaves and trees that people take for granted along the paths of their lives. By drawing a tree or a plant, I begin to understand the physical patterns of flora and their slow growth, which echoes the slow pace of my life.”

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Visitors view artist Chhum Channa’s watercolour paintings in Siem Reap. The exhibition runs until December 10. Photo supplied

Serey Siv, the director and co-founder of Mirage says: “Channa Chhum’s work displays a great number of details and a spectrum of colours which bring the art of watercolour painting to a completely new level with the emotions it inspires.

“Yet paintings by Channa are still to be discovered by a wider public. We want to make sure the budding local audience in Siem Reap get to see artists of this stature. It is hard to believe some [local artists] are still making ends meet by selling handmade postcards for tourists at Angkor Wat.”

“It was important for us to celebrate our reopening at our new location with an exhibition by a Cambodian artist like Channa.

“At Mirage, we want to give Cambodian artists like Channa a space to create their next masterpiece and let the world know about it. The rediscovery, presentation and preservation of Khmer art constitutes the core of Mirage Contemporary Art Space,” Siv adds.

To celebrate art and a space for it like Mirage, the curators and the artist invite visitors to collectively shape its space and bend pieces of reality, creating a mirage and contributing to a unique form of artistic creation. “My Life” runs until December 10.

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