Cambodian and German artists explore typography

Cambodian artist Kem Keosocheat collaborated with German artist Lars Breuer to examine the typography of their two languages ​​for their In Collaboration exhibition at Meta House in Phnom Penh.

Currently in progress, the exhibition In Collaboration: Lars Breuer (Germany) and Koem Keosocheat (Cambodia) will end on August 28

Breuer typically works with large textual installations that draw on references to art history and literature, while aesthetically suggesting a dialogue between architecture, design and fine art.

For this first project in Southeast Asia, the artist will work with local typography in combination with German phrases.

Rendered in black and white, and with parallel horizontal dynamics across the walls of the art spaces, a rhythmic and dynamic relationship is claimed for the two linguistic forms.

“They are both translated into the other language and combined so that you can no longer read them correctly. Khmer becomes German and German becomes Khmer. In this way, the two languages ​​build a new abstract pattern as a whole .

“I’m working on a nine-meter-wide painting that completely covers a wall. The textual work uses Khmer and German. My first challenging task was to work on a design for a Khmer typography,” Breuer told The Post.

Keosocheat said she was thrilled to work with the German artist for the exhibition at Meta House, as the collaborations represented opportunities to build relationships, as well as share cultures and civilizations that existed in the past and continued in the present.

The native of Kampot province works with oil or watercolor, pen or pencil, textiles and natural materials, and she presented a dress with additional layers of detail in repetitive patterns at the exhibition Srey 2021.

With the dress as a painted canvas, the woman’s body becoming the frame used to display the image when worn, Keosocheat said of the artwork.

The Srey 2021 exhibition at Meta House highlighted the long-term vision of women, from starting small to achieving big goals in life.

Keosocheat, a graduate of the Royal University of Fine Arts, told The Post: “The exchange with Breuer is an opportunity for integration, as well as the promotion of artistic talents, design and literature.

“At some point, we can say that our art is similar because we rely on a culture of sharing as well as the reflection of the same vision.”

Breuer said that when he made his original plans for an exhibition project in Phnom Penh, he had the idea of ​​combining his art with a local perspective, with a wonderful opportunity to exchange with a local artist.

He said Meta House came up with Keosocheat, and the collaboration started weeks ago when they were working on invitation cards that combined his handwritten text with his hard-edged typography.

“It is very generous that Socheat decided to work on a textual painting for our joint exhibition. She made a very nice proposal and I’m looking forward to the exhibition,” Breuer said.

With Breuer’s interest in text-based art, he works with self-designed typography.

“My exhibition at Meta House is the only one I’m doing in Cambodia this time. But I am already working on new plans for a cooperation and exchange project between Cambodia and Germany. It would be wonderful to come back to the Kingdom soon,” he said.

With the Nikakhit piece on a 100x200cm canvas, Keosocheat said the black and white painting is not just for ordinary viewing, but an opportunity to learn about culture and civilization and the evolution over time. time.

The word nikakhit, which comes from the Pali language, is the name of an identifier with a zero form like “0”, she said. It is a particle and a suffix to start reconciling from one object to another as a result of the action.

“Like ancestors creating art and religion, literature and architecture, which embody a great deal of multiculturalism to be respected and studied, lead to the creation of new things,” Keosocheat said.

Nicolaus Mesterharm, the founder of the Cambodian-German cultural center, said that while Meta House has been encouraging exchanges between Cambodian and German artists for more than 15 years, for two years during Covid-19, this has not been possible.

Covid-19 affected the art scene globally – with galleries closed, many artists lost income and unable to travel they couldn’t share their ideas with the world, he said.

Mesterharm said Breuer was one of the first German artists to exhibit at Meta House after the pandemic.

“We are relieved that traveling and working abroad are once again possible. The mobility of artists and cultural professionals is essential for various reasons.

“These include access to new career opportunities, new audiences and new markets, creating jobs in the cultural and creative sectors, promoting cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, and creating networks and build partnerships,” Mesterharm said.

Mesterharm said Breuer had wanted to find a Cambodian counterpart to exhibit with from the early planning stages, and they were very happy that emerging female artist Keosocheat had agreed to join the project.

The exhibition In Collaboration: Lars Breuer (Germany) and Kem Keosocheat (Cambodia) will last 20 days, from August 9 to 28.

About Norma Wade

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