Raksmey Hong | Publication date 10 May 2022 | 21:22 ICT
An artist from Kampot, Hom Rith, has drawn on sources of inspiration from his childhood for his exhibition at Raffles Les Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh at the hotel’s Le Phnom 1929 restaurant where it is co-presented by Sra’Art Gallery and Open Studio Cambodia.
The ten paintings that are on display at the exhibition in Phnom Penh feature images of cows, lotus trees and lotus leaves, reflecting the artist’s Buddhist cultural background and the influence of some of the first artwork he encountered as a child painted on or carved into temple walls; but in combination with his own creativity as a painter who uses watercolours and acrylics.
Rith says he uses the lotus as a symbol for pagodas, cows are symbolic of the self and depictions of light are meant to convey hope.
“They were the first paintings I saw in my life because I grew up in the remote Cambodian countryside. The Buddhist pagoda was the first place I was able to study art also. I stayed there and devoted myself to learning art. Because of that experience, I continue to pursue a career as an artist today,” Rith, 36, tells The Post.
Most Khmer would understand why Rith uses the lotus to represent the pagoda, because it’s a holy flower to Cambodians. However, his reasons for using the cow to stand in for himself are more personal – what he is depicting are memories from his childhood when he would look after the family’s cows.
While he was guarding the cows out in the field, Rith spent some of that time drawing and painting and he feels a close connection to the animals after spending so much time observing them.