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Turning fine art into high fashion

Um Chanraksa / Khmer Times Share:
Mr Visal, 21, is a painting major in his fourth year of studies at Royal University of Fine Arts. Supplied

Showing off the clothes  he created from discarded works of art, Sek Visal explains how he hopes his designs will inspire young people at home and abroad.

Mr Visal, 21, is a painting major in his fourth year of studies at the Royal University of Fine Arts.

He has loved painting and designing since he was six, so after he finished high school, he decided to major in it.

Unlike some parents, Mr Visal’s mother and father were very supportive of his plans.

“My parents have always let me do what I wanted, including studying this subject, even though they know that art majors do not always find it easy to get a job,” Mr Visal said.

Seeing artworks that had been  thrown out by his seniors at school, Mr Visal started to think about ways of recycling them.

“I saw many old paintings, which had been discarded. I thought about those paintings getting wet in the rain and immediately had an idea to use the artworks to design clothes.

“I thought it would be useful and interesting because it is unique,” he said.

It takes him two or three months to design an item of clothing because he has to study at the same time.

So far, Mr Visal has designed three collections.

Two of them were entered into a competition in Indonesia on August 26.

A collection he is currently working on will be displayed at a show in Malaysia in September.

“All of my designs have meanings such as the ‘Sbek Thom’ collection, which is inspired by Khmer traditional dance.

“The second called ‘Reahou’ is inspired by the Khmer folktale of the same name.

“And the last one, which I just completed, is ‘Neang Neak’, also based on a Khmer folktale,” Mr Visal said.

For the next step in his career, if he can get enough support, Mr Visal plans to set up a design team.

“I plan to have a team of clothes designers if Cambodian people continue to support what I am doing, though it is not easy to put together teams of people with a similar passion for this type of design,” Mr Visal said.

He said he has always struggled to get enough materials to create his designs, so donations of artwork from his seniors have been vital.

Mr Visal had a message for the public: “Please help support Khmer painters, because we work hard but have nowhere to show our art. Often, we have to sell our art for a very low price.”

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