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Wednesday, 19 Feb 2020 12:30 PM MYT
By ROUWEN LIN
If he didn’t become an artist, he would probably be a drug addict. Cambodian artist Pen Robit says this quietly, seriously.
“It was art that saved me from this fate, it transformed my life, ” he says.
The 29-year-old simply feels that it would have been all too easy to go down that path in a world where “even young children openly sniff glue by the roadside”.
But Pen, the eldest of four children, had harboured dreams of being an artist from a young age.
“I was maybe 12 or 13 when I realised this, that there is nothing that makes me happier than when I am painting. This feeling has stayed with me till this day, ” he says.
Born and raised in Battambang, he graduated from the non-profit Phare Ponleu Selpak’s School of Visual and Applied Arts there in 2010.
Since then, he has had four solo exhibitions in Cambodia - one in Siem Reap and three in Phnom Penh, where he is now based.
Pen Robit's exhibition also offers military-themed works, including 'The Soldiers' (left) and 'Commander-In-Chief' (oil on canvas, 2020). Photo: The Star/Izzrafiq AliasPen Robit's exhibition also offers military-themed works, including 'The Soldiers' (left) and 'Commander-In-Chief' (oil on canvas, 2020). Photo: The Star/Izzrafiq Alias
His current show Out Of This World at Richard Koh Fine Art in Kuala Lumpur is his first solo exhibition outside his home country, a showcase that boasts vibrant colours and symbolism heavy on military themes.
“I was born after the war, but its consequences are far-reaching. Seeing huge tanks on the road was so amazing to five year old me, but as I grew older, I started to better understand the impact of war on not just the nation but also my family. My father’s family was killed in the war, so this is a rather upsetting family story that will haunt us for generations, ” he shares.
But Out Of This World moves beyond the war story, even if it is something that is ever-present in Pen’s narrative.
“In this series, I have included my thoughts on other problems that plague society, like corruption and natural disasters.
“It also captures some elements of what I yearn for at times, even if I have my doubts that it is really what I want. It is really about all the things that touch me about life in general, ” he says.
https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/cu ... ourful-art
Another thread on the Cambodian urban art scene that may be of interest to you: cambodian-culture-and-language/cambodia ... eu#p296502
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