But contemporary or modern arts? Very little as it seems. However it is emerging. There are a few more or less well known modern artists, like Sopheap Pich (a Phnom Penh sculptor from Battambang province) or Svay Ken (who worked at the Hotel le Royal for 34 years). A considerable number of expat artists live in Cambodia (because of the low living costs?) or regularly pass by. And there are some NGO’s working on art. Three examples:
Meta House is a three storey art centre in Phnom Penh that gets German support. It assists those Cambodian artists who do concentrate on current social problems, the traumas caused by the genocide, or land grabbing and environmental degradation. During the Pol Pot regime 90% of the artists left the country or were killed. Metahouse tries to promote culture, through workshops, new art forms like video or other modern media, films and journalism.
The Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture (www.reyum.org) was established in late 1998, organising original exhibitions, as an alternative to the repetitive commercial paintings and sculptures for the tourist market. Reyum is a space for exhibitions on a wide variety of topics, not only in the visual arts, but within broader realms of culture and society.
The Java Arts project intends to develop contemporary art in Cambodia (www.javaarts.org). JavaArts is a cultural enterprise in partnership with Java Café & Gallery, that started in 2000 in Phnom Penh, where it operates a gallery and arts lab. Supported by the café and gallery activities, JavaArts is a platform for the development of contemporary visual arts in Cambodia.