International Women’s Day kicks off in fine style in Siem Reap today with the annual French Week holding a gab-fest about the engagement of women in Cambodian civil society, followed in the evening with Jean-Baptiste’s play Cambodge me Voici, (Cambodia, Here I Am) at the Journee Internationale des Femmes Theater.
This play tells the story of four Cambodian women who meet in the consular office in Paris and share their stories, dreams, hopes and also their struggles in a charming mix of emotion and humour.
Meanwhile at Tribe Art Gallery in funky Kandal Village, International Women’s Day is being marked in a more unusual manner with a limited edition of 100 prints of an art-rendering of an alleged mythical goddess Kandalis, by high profile London-based street art exponent, Finbarr Dac.
The Tribe people brought Finbarr to Cambodia late last year and while he was in Siem Reap he painted the figure of a female deity as part of a mural on the wall of a small alley – later dubbed Coconut Alley – near the gallery.
The figure was dubbed ‘Kandalis’ and, as Tribe co-owner Terry McIlkenny says, “She’s the mythical goddess of Kandal Village – we made the name up.”
The Brit artist Finbarr has a huge social media network and it wasn’t long before images of the Kandalis mural were a hit amongst global street-smart art set.
A Tribe press release says, “The image has proved so popular with followers of his work that since its creation it has received over two million hits on social media platforms worldwide. His fans now make a pilgrimage to see this work, this hidden beauty.
“All visiting artists since Finbarr Dac have also made their mark on Coconut Alley leaving their work in this ever growing outdoor art space.”
Terry McIlkenny adds that by putting Kandalis on the street, “We have marked Siem Reap as an art destination. Finbarr Dac has told his story worldwide within his circles and at every gathering of his peers and encouraged them to come and work with Tribe and help make Siem Reap a global destination for art.”
The image has now been rendered as a print, a hundred of which are available exclusively through Tribe today – visitors to the gallery will also be offered a Kandalis cocktail (don’t ask.)
Following the International Women’s Day print gig, Tribe then moves on to succor emerging local talent in the form of Siem Reap artist Nak Noy, whose first major gallery show of original work and limited edition prints launches on March 15 evening, with a further appearance and talk by the artist at the gallery on Saturday afternoon, March 30. The exhibition will run until May 12.
Nak Noy is a self-taught artist with an obsessive eye for detail, who creates intricate lines and patterns with fine pen and ink.
He’s been intent on creating art since a small child and, thanks to the indulgence of his parents, his art covers almost every wall of his home, mapping out his artistic progress.
Tribe co-owner Terry McIlkenny explains how Nak Noy’s talent was discovered, then nurtured.
“When we arrived in Cambodia in September of 2018 – and before we opened the gallery – we went in search of new Khmer art talent. We travelled to Battambang, Phnom Penh and Kampot using social media as a forum for an open call to artists,” he says.
“We also scoured Instagram and have been following young Khmer talent. Nak Noy came onto our radar a long time ago as someone whose work interested us very much and felt it needed to be seen by a wider audience.
“Friends had given him his first break by exhibiting his work on the walls of their Little Red Fox Espresso café in Kandal Village.
“We then began to nurture him, mentor him and support him with the procurement of art materials and to guide him in the refinement of his work and the creation of his new body of work, for what will be his first major solo gallery exhibition.
“It has been a delight to see him grow as a person and an artist. Nak Noy embodies our mission as a gallery: to find nurture and develop Cambodian artists and to introduce their work on to a global stage. We are extremely proud of him and how far he has come in such a short time and are certain his career will continue to develop at an accelerated pace.”
After that show, Tribe then swings back to the best of Brit, bringing acclaimed London fine artist Carne Griffiths to Siem Reap in late April.
Griffiths is known as ‘the organic artist’ because he works with natural colors and dyes to create dreamlike art, and he has painted portraits of Kylie Minogue and Kate Middleton.
His appearance in Siem Reap begins on the evening of April 26, with a charity function for the Angkor Children’s Hospital at the Park Hyatt hotel between 6-9pm, with all proceeds from tickets and raffle ticket sales going to support the hospital.
Carne Griffiths will also be at the function to exhibit his work and complete a live drawing, which will become the major raffle prize of the evening.
Then on April 28, he will open his exhibition at Tribe Gallery. This will run through until May 31, and Griffiths will also contribute some street tart to the walls of Coconut Alley.
The Tribe Gallery owners are naturally chuffed by pulling off this art coup.
“Carne Griffiths is an incredible artist with a unique style,” says Terry McIlkenny. “His presence allows us again to demonstrate to Khmer artists the possibility of art as a livelihood.
“He is internationally successful and acclaimed and his unique skills will be yet another discipline that can be shared – so far we have brought a muralist and a screen printer, now a fine art detailed artist who draws.”