Artist narrative

Trained in traditional Cambodian painting techniques and history, Chhim Sothy’s more recent work has broken away from this historical genre and become increasingly experimental both in style and subject matter. Adept and diverse, Sothy traverses through ‘Different Worlds’, taking us on an intimate journey related to his ideas about the Environment and Society, in particular focusing on Belief, Religion and Custom.

From an idealized image of village life in Modulkiri, where Sothy depicts houses made from local materials and women going about their daily chores, we are taken to the edge of a forest. The branches of the trees seem to be subtlely beckoning us inside, daring us to pass the boundaries that delineate the edge of a protective domain to enter into the unknown.

Abstractions morph into faces, faces metamorphose into animals, and objects merge and blur the edges of the ‘Different Worlds’. Even with Sothy’s use of subjects from contemporary life, the viewer can still sense his use of history as a reference, a foundation. One can imagine the connection with the timeless smiles of Apsara dancers carved in stone on the Angkor Temples with the faces appearing through the expressionistic brush strokes.

Chhim Sothy is one of the leading contemporary Cambodian artists and has been recognized as such by Royalty and the Government as well as his peers and his students. He makes painting look easy and effortless as only a master could do.

Artist bio

Born in 1969 in Kandal Province, Chhim Sothy studied painting at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, he graduated in 1995. Sothy has always been consistent in creating his own work but in the late nineties he also worked as a designer for hotels in Phnom Penh and the Chantiers Ecoles de Formation Professionelle in Siem Reap.

In 1998 Sothy started working for the Ministry of Culture and in 1999 he was involved in a project with UNESCO documenting traditional forms of Khmer Art. In recent years Sothy’s own art work has broken away from his traditional training and his oeuvre has moved into an increasingly experimental contemporary style.

Sothy has had numerous exhibitions in Cambodia, France, Vietnam, the Philippines and Hong Kong. Recognized as one of the leading Cambodian contemporary artists, Sothy has now been selected twice to represent Cambodia at the 2008 and 2010 Beijing International Art Biennale and has also reached the final selection of regional artists in the Sovereign Art prize competition in Hong Kong for the last two years.

His work is in countless private collections and has also been collected by establishments such as the National Art Museum of Singapore, the Municipality of Carcassonne in France, the National Museum in Beijing, the Royal Palace Art Museum in Phnom Penh, the International Airport in Phnom Penh and the World Bank Office in Phnom Penh.

Prolific and dedicated to the Arts, Chhim Sothy’s achievements have been recognized by the Royal Palace and the Royal Government of Cambodia. In 2001 he received a Royal congratulation letter from His Majesty the King Norodom Sihanouk and in 2006 he was given a special certificate from His Majesty the King Prah Borommoneath Norodom Sihamony. In 2007 Prime Minister Samdach Hun Sen awarded a prestigious gold medal to Chhim Sothy for his exceptional contribution to the Arts and for his masterful paintings.

"Different Worlds"
Chhim Sothy
03 December 2010 - 13 January 2011

Hôtel de la Paix > Arts Lounge > Different Worlds