A Sketch of the Contemporary Art Scene in Phnom Penh
People generally don’t associate Cambodia with contemporary art – rather with the wonders of Angkor and the country’s recent turbulent past. However, Cambodia is currently going through something of a cultural revival. The majority of this revival is coming from the capital, Phnom Penh. A group of local and international artists are helping put Cambodia back on the map as one of the region’s contemporary cultural destinations. Khiri Travel Cambodia would like to introduce you to some of the highlights of the contemporary art scene in the capital:
The three-story META House gallery offers space for both artists-in-residence and visiting artists to interact. Cambodia’s first art/media/communication center promotes the development of contemporary art in Cambodia through local and international exhibitions, workshops and artist exchange programs. META House also fosters links with regional and international universities, galleries and organizations. On display is the META House art collection of both Khmer and Western origin. Several floors are reserved for exhibitions by students. Exhibitions and installations are generally brought into being on the first floor of the facility, a large, open room that flows into a sculpted garden.
Romeet is a dynamic space for Cambodian contemporary art. The gallery’s name is derived from a Khmer spice similar to saffron that can be used as a pigment. Throughout the year, the gallery displays a variety of exhibitions, talks, and workshops. The gallery was founded by Phare Ponleu Selpak and promotes local artists, while at the same time collaborating with the international art scene.
Java Arts, supported by Java Café & Gallery is a platform for the development of contemporary visual arts in Cambodia. In response to the changing artistic climate in Cambodia, Java Arts launched its Arts Lab and residency program in 2012 to expand the support for art production. It provides grants, workspace and logistical support to Cambodian artists. Many emerging performers and illustrators have since gone on to become prominent figures in the contemporary art world. In a townhouse near Independence Monument, both the first and second floor have regular exhibitions. Adjacent to the café, there now is a modular arts lab that functions as an office, a studio, a gallery and an incubator for contemporary concepts and ideas. The café overlooks Hun Sen Park. It’s a good place for a coffee or two. All profits from the gallery are used for programming and supporting artistic initiatives.