Cages Torn Open Exhibit Advocates for Animals

Rosahlee Bautista / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Ms. Dina Chhan standing beside one of her paintings during her exhibit, "Cages Torn Open" at Metahouse.

PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) — Themes of life and wildlife have captured Ms. Dina Chhan’s imagination over the past twelve years. Ms. Chhan’s latest collection of works entitled, “Cages Torn Open” display what humans share with other living beings and what we forget and deny.
 
 
“When I paint, I paint under the dictate of feeling or sensing and the outcome all the time is supposed to say something. I am an artist therefore I will create and use art to say what I feel and what I know is right,” said Dina Chhan, a female sculptor and painter from Phnom Penh.
 
 
Art for Ms. Chhan is a responsibility. All artists have their social responsibility. She used to work with a landmine NGO and they took her artwork all over the world in “Cages Torn Open,” Ms. Chhan’s advocacy is to save the animals. 
 
 
“Learn to love and take care of the animals,” she said.  “Like the birds, they are born to be gloriously flying in the air. All animals, like tigers and other wild cats, they must live free and live in their habitat;  but sad to say, Cambodia lost more than 7 percent of its forest cover over the past 12 years—the fifth fastest rate in the world.”
 
 
“The war ended in 1998, but the destruction of Cambodia’s forests through illegal logging and associated corruption continues,” she regretfully added.
 
 
She considers her latest artwork and exhibit as her best body of works. “We are all like animals in zoos behind bars. We are the women and men locked away in our factories and offices.”
 
“The only difference between an animal and human is the hand, which can wave, caress and paint, but we can also build barriers, fences and turn locks. Still the eyes of humans, eyes of birds, eyes of beasts, when threatened—the desire for liberty can be vividly seen through those eyes,” said Ms. Chhan.
 
 
“Those open hands reach towards us, into us, prompting a reflection on the nature of humanity. A word we use to describe both our highest ideals and our inevitable imperfections,” she said.
 
 
“Are we feeding the animals? Warding off danger? Asking for forgiveness? Giving a warning? Offering a helping hand? The hands in my painting are tearing open the cages that keep us from embracing all living things,” said Ms. Chhan, as she disclosed the philosophical foundation of her latest works.
 
 
The artist has stories best expressed in pictures rather than words. The color she uses conveys not only her actual emotion, but the emotion she wishes to convey.
 
 
“Whatever the artist does, it’s from the heart. A painting to me is always tells a story. This time, it’s about animal advocacy. I am only in a basic level, which requires us to be aware of the conditions of those animals even your pets at home… everybody’s awareness can help save animal lives,” Ms. Chhan said.

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