Urban art goes under hammer for charity

Mark Tilly / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Rebirth by FONKi is one of the artworks up for auction on Sunday. Supplied

Phnom Penh is set to have its first urban art auction this weekend, featuring international and local artists, in a scene on the rise in the capital.

Organised by K-Bach Gallery, the auction is set to showcase the very best of urban art, featuring 11 renowned artists such as FONKi and Theo Vallier, both of whom have close ties to the kingdom.

Twenty pieces will go under the hammer at Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra on Sunday, each drawing inspiration from Cambodian landscapes, culture and people.

The works on sale consist of an eclectic mix of styles and motifs, ranging from traditional street murals using spray paint, to sculptures of nagas formed from rusty metal. 

K-Bach Gallery owner, London-born Tony Francis noted an increasing appreciation of urban art in the kingdom, leading him to open the gallery earlier in the year.

He attributed the success of the scene to the talent and storytelling abilities of the artists pushing their craft.

“The current rebirth of the urban art scene in Cambodia is both amazing and inspiring,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“It has been instigated by the success and hard work of local artists.”

With the creation of the gallery as well as the K-Bach studio, Francis hopes to energise the urban art scene in the capital by helping artists collaborate, share ideas and connect with international buyers.

To help the space keep its edge, Francis assigned street artist and founder of street fashion brand Omens, Daniel Ou, whose work will also feature in the auction, to act as a mentor to up and coming artists at the studio and develop the community.

“It’s very hard for people (artists) coming up… they feel shy, they feel like their work is not good enough to be around me or others,” Ou said at a press conference yesterday.

“Everyone starts somewhere and it’s important for us, those who are instigating the scene, to just really be like parents to them.”

Sofitel’s general manager Charles-Henri Chevet said he was thrilled their venue was able to host the event, noting that Phnom Penh’s growing art scene is a strong selling point for the capital to become a regional travel hub.

“The growth of urban art signifies the rapid expansion of creativity in the capital which will see our city flourish into an attractive international destination,” he said.

Funds raised from the auction will go towards Princess Ermine Norodom’s foundation Shanty Town Spirit, which works with communities, sponsoring families to send their children to school.

Ou said he felt proud that his achievements and growth as an artist could be translated back into real-world progress in helping poor communities.

“My art can be somewhere and if I’m successful I can come back to the community and say, ‘Hey look, I did this stuff… I was just like you and you can have your own journey and change your community by just being yourself, by helping people with your art’,” he said.

The art auction will be held on Sunday, September 10, at 2pm at Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra. Registration is free.

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