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Drawing Room

By: Marc Pollack Posted: February-02-2008 in
Marc Pollack

The Drawing Room is a funky little show brought to you by Phnom Penh's resident contemporary curators Ali Sanderson and Panca Evenblij. The show is what the title suggests: a play on words. This is not a show to support poor, disadvantaged Cambodian artists; it's a show to bring a broader meaning to contemporary art in Phnom Penh. You may have seen a show like this somewhere else but you haven't seen one here. It's a show that basically asks a question: What is drawing? And then it tries to have fun answering the question.

Let's skip right to the chase. Panca makes a funny piece with a 30 line title. In fact the title is exactly what's in the drawing, or shall I say work on paper. There are no normal markings like you would expect from a drawing: no lines, no pencil, no charcoal, no ink pen, no erasures. It's a computer print out attached to frames and it's a funny little story about the "Doodle." A doodle is a form of drawing, no? Is this another pun? The only draw back is that the story is a bit juvenile, so be it. This is the year that galleries around the world are showing a lot of words.

Ali makes her own joke with a particularly wordy title, "The Young Television Star Probably Thought She Had a Bright Future." There are three very flat, almost cartoonish paintings of a, well, is she a television star, a wannabe, a "could have been a contender" type? They are funky little paintings that I quite liked although I couldn't say why in the beginning. Ali would dread being called a painter so I don't want to say anything nice about the colors; I could say they are anti-colored paintings. Ali seems to be trying to make dissidence in the color schemes.

Piteak has a very small painting on tracing paper that looks like he traced a cartoon figure, an apsara, an elephant and also a transfer image of temples. A rather sparse grouping that uses a non-conventional surface, it seems to want to be an updated version of a Cambodian souvenir with a sardonic touch. It reminds me of Larry Rivers. There are no real emotional drawing lines.

John Weeks continues the jokes with his comics. Are they "drawing?" They're funny. They were drawn at one time but these were designed to be mass produced in either books or magazines. In this case they are copied onto a board and mounted.

Sopheap Pich, Cambodia's resident savant, has a drawing of his sculpture "Hive." It's a very nice drawing that was done after the original piece was in situ. If you have ever seen his large scale work, it's made up of a lot of split ratin pieces that look like lines (and also water). So, it's a drawing of a sculpture that looks like a drawing.

And lastly, Kong Vollak shows one of his drawings of imaginary buildings called "The Envisage," a play on a French word meaning to envision or imagine. His drawing which is drawn directly onto linen is in some ways the most traditional of the drawings. Vollak is one of the very talented up and coming Cambodian artists. We are looking forward to his next show, his next drawings…without buildings, but not without lines…and life.

February 1 - March 31, 2008
Rubies Wine Bar, Street 240 x Street 19


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