The 48-year-old artist lives in Phnom Penh, but comes originally from Kandal Province to the south of the capital. In 1985, at the age of just 16, he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Phnom Penh. Young and poor, he slept inside the school, stringing his hammock along the corridors he walked as a student for ten years. Here he dedicated two years to classical religious painting, two years on poster art, and five years on modern painting, and the style for which he has developed such a strong reputation today.
During this time, with the intervention of UNTAC came a new range of influences and Chhim was introduced to the worlds of Monet, Manet, Picasso, Les Nabis and Les Fauves. Already a francophile, he delighted in these new artistic treasures and inspirations. The next few years he worked in Cambodia, but the new millennium brought new and international exposure for the young artist whose work started to be shown in Vietnam, Singapore, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, the United States and France.
A reflection of his varied influences, Sothy’s work is characterised by a diversity of styles with an emphasis on abstract painting — which you will see at Arunreas. You can also see clear inspirations from the likes of Jackson Pollock and Picasso. He often incorporates mythical characters from Khmer culture into oddly contrasting scenes or explosions of colour, and is passionate about abstract art that leaves the viewer imagining the meaning.
As well as Arunreas, Sothy’s work can be found in the National Art Museums of Singapore and China, the Royal Palace Art Museum in Cambodia, the Swedish and Korean embassies in Phnom Penh, the municipality of Carcassonne in France, and in many commercial and private collections around the world. His house-studio-showroom is located near Wat Mongkolvan in the middle of Phnom Penh. See http://www.chhimsothy-artist.com to make an appointment.
(adapted from an article in Cambodge Mag, July 2017)