Exhibition: Watercolor paintings by Mil Chankrim

Exhibition opening 6:30pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Java Café (upstairs)

Mil Chankrim’s exhibition comes at a time of tragedy, after a fire burned through several buildings behind Java Café just before P’chum Ben. Our office and some of our art storage was completely destroyed. Fortunately, the works of Chankrim were rescued from the burning building.

We are so thrilled that we can present this work in spite of the terrible situation for us and many artists.

Chankrim, a graduate from Phare Ponleu Selpak, is an especially talented young artist whose work draws inspiration from resilience and the emotional complexity of tragedy. When creating this work, he used color, line and texture to convey the range of emotions he observed amongst widows, divorcees and single mothers. He focused particularly on facial expressions while distorting the body and composition, choosing to present the figures on a white untouched background.

Early in the development of his work, Chankrim discovered an affinity with artist Egon Schiele and since then has taken inspiration from him. Like Schiele, Chankrim also uses the female figure and sexuality as a form of expression and perhaps to challenge the social norms. When talking about the nudity in his work, Chankrim explains that it is a gesture of empowerment and reveals a certain truth about the self – very like his contemporaries Oeur Sokuntevy and Heng Ravuth.

Chankrim graduated from art school in 2013 and since then he has exhibited in Phnom Penh, Battambang and Paris. This is his third solo exhibition. He continues to work in Battambang with collective Romcheik 5 studios.

The war ended, but it left many widows behind. These widows had to face many problems, financial, psychological, and so on. Many of them fell into depression due to hard living conditions that was worsened by loneliness and rejection. The problems for widows occurs of course even in today’s society, as well as for divorced women, or single mothers… It should be noted that traditionally, in Khmer popular language, we use a single word to describe the loneliness of a woman’s life as “MÉ MAÏ.”

My neighbor, a few of my friends, and numerous women I know are “widows.” Among them, my own mother. And it is, of course, the main influence of this work. When I started drawing, I focused on their sorrow and difficulties. However, during this period of working process, I met some Cambodian widows and even foreigners who, in appearance at least, seemed to live their “widowhood “in a very different way. They gave an impression of strength, determination, and even happiness. As if, the loss of a spouse had released them from some constraints, as if they finally reached their real life, and their buried desire came true.

Therefore the spectrum of my work has widened, as the range of feelings in my paintings are no longer limited to despair. It is a message that reflects the complexity of loss and perseverance.

Showing: October 21 – November 29, 2015
Available for viewing every day, 7am – 10pm
For inquiries contact Dana Langlois, dana[at]javaarts[dot]org

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