ArtXchange Gallery presents, Contemporary Cambodia, a group exhibition featuring emerging Khmer artists from Cambodia, showing concurrently with Lauren Iida’s solo exhibition, 32 Aspects of Daily Life. Including painting, woodblock printing, photography, and more, this curated selection showcases the diversity of Cambodia’s contemporary art scene.
With the previous generation of artists and creatives largely lost during Cambodia’s tragic Pol Pot era, young artists in Cambodia are finding mentorship, camaraderie and training by banding together through collectives, galleries and a small number of art schools. The important role these communities play is paramount, allowing artists to share knowledge and art supplies, in a country where both are scarce. This wave of young talent is creating a new chapter in Cambodia’s history, using contemporary art to process the traumatic legacies of the past, and re-defining national identity for the future.
Featured in this exhibition is the work of artists from two collectives. Open Studio Cambodia, founded by ArtXchange Gallery artist Lauren Iida, is a group of artists primarily from rural backgrounds, who live and work together at Iida’s Siem Reap based studio. Romcheik Pram is a collective of four artists who were freed from labor trafficking and turned to visual art, living and working together in Battambang. The artists represented in this exhibition each have a story to tell; a young singer whose arms were lost in an electrical accident, an ex-boxer/tuk tuk driver turned watercolor painter, and artists who were trafficked to Thailand as children to work in the construction industry. All of them share their perspectives and experiences through their art. These stories illustrate the reality of life for many Khmer people in Cambodia today. For these artists, their work represents a way of telling their story, a new livelihood, and a brighter future.