Theam Muy Lim was nine years old when the Khmer Rouge Regime fell in 1978. His family was forced to flee Cambodia and arrived in France as refugees in 1980. In his new home, Theam immersed himself in the French artistic education system and received artistic and technical education in interior design at the Ecole Boulle and in painting at the Fine Art School in Paris.
But Theam set aside his life in France and journeyed back to Cambodia – a place he once fled from for more than a decade. He got reunited with those he had left behind and took part in rebuilding the country through his arts.
With his desire to learn about Khmer art and culture, he trawled through temples and pagodas around the country, visited people’s homes and studied artwork and artefacts.
For more than 15 years of helping revive Cambodia’s arts and crafts scene, Theam Muy Lim now exhibits his greatest masterpieces in Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra for a three-month show.
The Takeo-born artist’s collection, entitled “Songes”, takes art to a whole new level. Songes (translated as dreams) is inspired by the religious murals of Cambodia’s pagodas and temples injected with techniques of polychrome and lacquer-ware. Theam’s creative process includes polychrome images with successive layers of paint, enhanced by scratched effects. The composition of fine layers of strong acrylic colours creates a rich thickness which is then softened by meticulous sandpapering.
“I’m delighted to collaborate with people who love art and respect the artistic work of each artist. To have the incredible support of wonderful people continuously helps to inspire and motivate me artistically. Being truly understood, both as an artist and as an individual is extremely important to me, and it is my honour to have the opportunity to exhibit my work in this dedicated art space,” says Theam of his grand exhibition at Sofitel’s gallery.
Aside from making his creative pieces, Theam has also launched an art project that includes training young artisans as he turned his home into a working studio dedicated to the creation and the highlighting of local crafts.
Theam’s exhibit at Sofitel is just one part of his journey in pursuing his artistic researches and transmitting his savoir-faire to young Cambodians.
Curated by Recreation, a local art organisation, “Songes” exhibit will be open from February to April with free admission for all.